Eight months ago, when I was preparing to cover the trial that is going to last a century, I was teasing my friend Betty Kennedy, who used to work for a 38-year CBC show whose name escapes me.
She thought there was a chance O. J.
Simpson was innocent. I told her the only man in history more obviously guilty was Adolph Hitler. When I returned from Los Angeles, I apologized to her. I said I would withdraw the name of Hitler. I would substitute instead Attila the Hun.
Here are 24 things you wished you didn’t have to know about this soap opera:
1. Judge Lance Ito, when he was a prosecutor, met the white woman who is now his wife and the highest-ranking female on the L.A police force, at a murder scene.
2. Lead prosecutor Marcia Clark’s first husband, a professional backgammon player, accidentally shot in the head his best friend, who is still crippled.
3. Waiters in one San Francisco restaurant wear lapel buttons that state, “We do not return sunglasses.”
4. Simpson, who was paid $550,000 a year to represent Hertz, revealed in the suicide note found in the Ford Bronco that he could not spell and had difficulty putting sentences together.
5. In her closing argument, Marcia Clark discussed whether O. J. had dandruff in the off-season.
6. The LA. Times discovered that Johnnie Cochran’s first wife twice accused him of assaulting her, in 1967 and 1977. The 1967 declaration for a restraining order read, “My husband violently pushed me against the wall, held me there and grabbed me by my chin. He has slapped me in the past, torn a dress off me, and threatened on numerous occasions to beat me up.”
7. Judge Ito, who was named California judge of the year by his peers in 1993, said before he was named to the case that “a guy would have to be crazy to take this case.”
8. Marcia Clark’s second husband was a
Scientology executive a half-dozen years younger than she was.
9. Lawyers Robert Cossack and Greta Van Susteren, who comment on the case every day for CNN, are now millionaires and have signed to do their own television show.
10. Judge Ito’s wife was beaten by her husband in her first marriage.
11. A reporter threatened with contempt of court by Judge Ito for chewing gum in the courtroom called a press conference to announce, “I was sucking, I wasn’t chewing.”
12. District Attorney Gil Garcetti, Clark’s boss, wants to be governor of California.
13. Although O. J. Simpson was an AllAmerican halfback and the Heisman Trophy winner as the finest college football player in the United States, he played only two years at the University of Southern California, a famed football factory. He first had to spend two years at a San Francisco junior college attempting to get the marks to attend USC.
14. Judge Ito’s parents met at an internment camp where Japanese-American citizens were taken after Pearl Harbor.
15. In The New Republic, an American teacher in a Midwest high school explained how he told his class to follow the case closely to learn about the law and the courts and justice. His class is split racially. All the white students think Simpson is guilty. All the black kids think he’s been framed. One student asked the teacher if he had noticed that the detective who phoned O. J. in his Chicago hotel room said, “Your exwife is dead.” Smart kid. Smart cop. O. J. has two ex-wives. You can be dead from a car accident, a heart attack. 0. J.’s response: “Nicole’s been murdered?” The teacher commended the boy for his alertness and said, “Well, that means he’s guilty?” The student, who is black, said, “No, he’s been framed.”
16. Marcia Clark paid her way through law school by serving hamburgers and dancing in a modern dance troupe.
17. Cochran has been hired to represent the families of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.
18. An agent is allowed into O. J. Simpson’s jail quarters once a week for him to sign memorabilia and books that have already brought him millions.
19. Last month, several hundred people from all over America flew to Los Angeles to pay for an “O. J. Simpson Cruise.” They chose a mock jury, did opening presentations and closing arguments and voted 10-2 for conviction. Real lawyers hired to supervise were astounded at how much the cruising tourists knew about the trial and how expert they were on court procedure.
20. O.J. had a life-size statue of himself in his garden. His son several years back took a baseball bat and smashed it to pieces.
21. The Los Angeles Times, a serious paper that thinks of itself in a league with The New York Times and The Washington Post, runs a regular list of O. J. Simpson jokes.
22. Marcia Clark started her career in law as a defence attorney. She was disgusted early on when she defended a man she knew was guilty and the court freed him. She turned to prosecution and her first mentor, an elderly lawyer, said, “It was like putting jet fuel in a Chevy.”
23. Johnnie Cochran’s first wife and his white mistress, who goes by the name of Patricia Cochran, appeared together on the Geraldo Rivera show.
24. Assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden’s high-school hero was a football player. O. J. Simpson. Darden used to wear his gridiron number.
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