Defender Mark Eiglarsh is representing Florida’s Notorious – but he just wants you to be happy

As Broward County Assistant District Attorney Steven Klinger walked away from the prosecution table last week to begin his opening arguments in a crowded courtroom, his opponent suddenly grabbed his forearm.

Mark Eiglarsh, the defense attorney for Scot Peterson – a former police officer on trial for allegedly failing to confront the teenage gunman in the 2018 Parkland school shooting – got close to Klinger to to say a few surprising words.

“I said, ‘Take a deep breath, you did it. You will do a great job. Do not worry. Don’t worry,'” Eiglarsh told The Daily Beast, explaining that he stopped his legal opponent because Klinger was “stressed.”

Eiglarsh’s gesture may seem unusual among court opponents – after all, Klinger was about to explain to the jury why they should convict Eiglarsh’s client. But for the lawyer, public relations was just one example of the tools he promotes in his 2019 self-help book. Be happy by choice: happiness guaranteed or your misery back.

“I’m also trying to make everyone around me better, believe it or not,” he said. “Every morning when I get up, I ask my higher power, ‘How can I be of service?’ How can I assist?'”

Eiglarsh was born and raised in Miami. He served as a Miami-Dade County prosecutor for several years before turning to criminal defense. He has been involved in several high-profile cases throughout his career, including representing Dalia Dippolito, the Florida woman convicted and infamously arrested in “Cops” in a failed assassination plot against her now-ex-husband. Eiglarsh has also appeared on HLN, CNN, E!, 60 Minutes and The View. His latest assignment is defending Peterson, who has been dubbed “the coward of Broward” and faces a maximum sentence of nearly a century in prison if convicted.

So today is all about excitement. Enjoy your day, I hope you choose to have a wonderful day.

But after nearly three decades into a career that’s been about “solving everyone else’s problems,” Eiglarsh said he’s started to internally think about why he’s “so miserable.” He had a demanding career that centered on “other people’s problems” and left little time to confront his own inner struggles.

“I think all growth comes from pain. You know, when you’ve faced challenges for decades and you’re tired of feeling like everyone around you is going to dictate how you’re going to feel. So I decided to find out and study how to control my thoughts to control how I feel and how I show up,” he said. “I’m not perfect at it, but I’m way better than I’ve ever been.”

The journey of self-discovery served as inspiration for the book he wrote in 2019 – and for his motivational lectures since. The “Eiglarsh Happiness Systems” described in his book are designed to help readers find “happiness, joy, and abundance for better energy.”

Since publishing his book in 2019, Eiglarsh said he’s started a motivational speaking program about his tools for “choosing happiness.” On his personal website, he boasts that he “delivered his keynote speeches to thousands of people to rave reviews.” According to this website, his speaking topics include: “Happiness Guaranteed for Lawyers…or Your Misery Back”, “Relieve Stress, Increase Success” and “Expand Your Business by Expanding Your Mind”.

“Mark is passionate about his life’s work of sharing with others how they can lead happy, healthy and successful lives, no matter what challenging circumstances they may face,” the website adds. “Its unique formula results in viewers experiencing less stress, increased sales and productivity, and better tools to help them achieve their goals. He delights audiences with his infectious enthusiasm, unique sense of humor and heartfelt authenticity.”

Eiglarsh said he uses his own tools while preparing for his case in defense of Peterson, who prosecutors said was not completing active gunnery training when he remained outside the three-story Parkland school building for 48 minutes while Nikolas Cruz fatally killed 17 people inside shot .

And Eiglarsh even sent out an inspirational video ahead of his court appearance.

My spiritual tool is to say that shit is thrown at you, you can’t stop it, so it depends on how you react.

“I’m here at the Broward County Courthouse where I resolve this Monday to turn fear into excitement. It’s the same energy, you can just as easily choose something that’s good for you,” the lawyer said in a selfie-style Instagram video at the busy government building. “So today is all about tension. Enjoy your day, I hope you choose to have a wonderful day.”

During an impassioned opening speech that sent the internet into a frenzy last week, Eiglarsh insisted that Peterson was merely a scapegoat for law enforcement failures during the Feb. 14, 2018 mass shooting. (Shooter Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole last year.) Peterson pleaded not guilty to multiple charges including child neglect and perjury.

Eiglarsh noted to The Daily Beast that over the past week his team has had a number of victories in cross-examination to prove just how messy the mass shooting was in the first place – and that his client wasn’t just hiding and ignoring his duties. Those victories, he said, were the result of hours of preparation, often at the expense of sleep. Still, he said, he remains true to his meditation and self-reflection.

Still, Eiglarsh admitted his client isn’t immune to the emotion of being called a “coward” after a long career as a police officer — or the burden of knowing his trial could have implications for police culpability in mass shootings.

“Calling him a coward is probably the worst thing anyone can do,” Eiglarsh said. “My spiritual tools will not convince him that he is not accused of anything. My spiritual tool is to say, if shit is thrown at you, you can’t stop it, so it’s how you react when shit is thrown at you that matters.’”

Peterson, he said, is eager to take a stand and dismiss allegations of misconduct, although Eiglarsh does not recommend his clients do so for fear of cross-examination. While the defense team is deciding whether it’s wise to put Peterson on the stand — a decision Eiglarsh stressed is ultimately up to the former officer — his client’s focus is on “choosing luck” and trusting his attorney.

“Scot doesn’t hide his gratitude for what I’m putting into this case. Every day Scot says what an incredible gift I have and how grateful he is that I share my gift of his,” said Eiglarsh. “And that doesn’t come from ego.”

Prosecutors are expected to complete their case against Peterson next week. Then it’s the turn of the defense in court, preparing to call over two dozen witnesses before the trial concludes in August.

Leave a Comment