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Sep 08 2012

OJ Prosecutor’s Claim That Glove Was Tampered With Is Embarrassing

In a panel discussion at Pace University Law School, Chris Darden, the man who along with Marcia Clarke lost the 1995 OJ Simpson murder trial made this ridiculous claim about the famous glove that OJ tried on unsuccessfully during the trial: “I think Johnnie [Cochran, OJ’s lead defense counsel] tore the lining. There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.’s fingers couldn’t go all the way up into the glove. Reuters has more on this explosive claim: Darden said in a follow-up interview on Friday that he noticed that when Simpson was trying on a glove for the jury its structure appeared to have changed: “A bailiff told me the defense had it during the lunch hour.” He said he wasn’t specifically accusing anyone, adding: “It’s been my suspicion for a long time that the lining has been manipulated.” He said he had previously voiced similar concerns in TV interviews, but could not recall the details.

What? Isn’t it bad enough that you lost a case with more evidence than I have seen in many murder cases? You are now publicly going to admit that you had information and suspicion that the glove was tampered with and never said anything during the trial? He should have his law license revoked. Of course allowing the trick to occur before the jury without examining the glove and then having OJ do it outside the jury’s presence first was as another defense team member Alan Dershowitz said “The greatest trial blunder of the 20th Century.” TO now add this nugget of information 17 years later is desperate and sad.

When are Darden and Clarke just going to admit that they were out-lawyered? Plain and simple. The common whine is that OJ formed “The Dream Team” and his millions got him off. Except that LA County outspent Simpson nearly three dollars to one in the trial of the case. Don’t forget for every investigator OJ’s money could hire, LA had countless cops, DA investigators, troopers, etc. OJ had forensic experts? The County had state of the art facilities, pathologists, medical examiners, etc. at their disposal. No it wasn’t the money that got OJ off. And Lord knows it wasn’t a lack evidence that got OJ off. It was his lawyers.

Yes, when LA District Attorney Gil Garcetti decided to move this trial from mostly white, rich Santa Barbara County where the murder occurred, to mostly black, poor LA County as an appeasement over his equally horrible decision to move the Rodney King police beating trial to all-white cop suburb Simi Valley, the die was cast. But the case was still very winnable. Then came Cochran and company and just bowled over these puppies in jury selection and the case quickly became a dying quail. The prosecutors lost compete control of the case, the trial and the courtroom. Then when Cochran had OJ try the glove on and he famously struggled to put it on, it allowed Cochran to come up with the most famous closing line of the 20th Century “If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit.” Never mind that the leather glove was soaked in blood when it was found and then sat in an evidence bag for months, the prosecutors should have demanded an opportunity to have OJ perform the maneuver outside the jury’s presence and for them to examine the glove. They should have argued that the glove was not in the same condition as it was when it was found and when it was not soaked in blood. If Darden was told this by a court officer or if he knew that the liner was torn, he should have jumped up and down screaming.

But he failed to see how Cochran was going to tie all of this in to his theme of the case – that police set up OJ because he was black and wanted to close the case. What make’s great trial lawyers great is their ability to come up with a theory of the case and then select a jury that the theme will resonate with. Then consistently come back to that theme throughout the trial and deliver a closing that expresses the theme. Counsel inexperienced in high-profile litigation often can’t see the forest for the trees. They don’t understand or know how to simplify a complex case into an easy-to-grasp theme that a jury of regular folks can relate to.

If you look at some of the most high-profile arrests of famous folks in serious cases over the last two decades, OJ, Robert Blake, William Kennedy Smith, for example, the prosecutors were all over-matched. The only high-profile defendant convicted of a serious crime in that same time period was Mike Tyson, on charges he raped beauty contestant Desiree Washington. How did the State of Indiana get that conviction on a date rape charge, where the victim went to his room voluntarily after a night of drinking? Because the County prosecutor knew enough to not leave the trial to his regular DAs. He got the State to appoint J. Gregory Garrison, a former county prosecutor and one of Indiana’s best know criminal defense lawyers. Tyson had an OJ-like Dream Team as well, but Garrison knew how to match point for point with them and obtained the conviction.

Justice caught up with OJ. In 1997, a civil court ruled that he was liable for the murders, ordering Simpson to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families and he is currently serving a up to 33 years in prison for a 2007 armed robbery in which he claimed he was trying to recover his own sports memorabilia. But its time for Darden to keep his mouth shut, stop the whining and just admit he got beat.

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