How Wrong Ito Was — 20 Years Ago

Continuing my campaign to post my daily People vs. OJ Simpson haiku on the correct anniversary date, here’s what I wrote on July 25, 1994:

Lance Ito was picked.

For trial of the century.

“Press will lose interest.”


(Explainer: Simpson trial judge, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito, was convinced media interest in the case would wane as the case proceeded.)

2 responses to “How Wrong Ito Was — 20 Years Ago

  1. Ito proved how weak and sensitive he was when he cried on nationwide TV because someone made insulting remarks about his wife. Everybody involved with the prosecution was in over their head. The whole trial was like something from a lame comedy movie. One legal system for the wealthy and one for the poor. It is ridiculous for cameras to be allowed in any courtroom ! Who cou feeld sit through something that boring anyway unless they had to ?

    • Here is the AP report of that proceeding:

      Judge Lance Ito was hurt by criticism Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman levied against his wife – (AP photo) Prosecution wants Judge Ito to pull out of Simpson trial By MICHAEL FLEEMAN Associated Press Writer LOS ANGELES — In a case of such hype and hyperbole, it was sweetly ironic that the biggest decision by the O.J. Simpson judge — whether to continue or bow out — may turn on something as simple and private as love. Prosecutor Marcia Clark promised to come to court today and ask for Superior Court Judge Lance Ito to remove himself from the double- murder trial because of the appearance of a conflict of interest. At issue is Ito’s marriage to a police captain who is allegedly disparaged — along with blacks and Jews — by Detective Mark Fuhrman on tape recordings. The defense wants to play the tapes to discredit Fuhrman, who found a bloody glove behind Simpson’s mansion. Prosecutors said Fuhrman won’t disappear as a factor in the case, and therefore Ito should go. On Tuesday, an emotional Ito excused himself from the narrow issue of whether the tapes should be admitted into evidence. Superior Court Judge John H. Reid was immediately put to work on that task. “I love my wife dearly,” Ito said from the bench, halting to fight for composure, “and I am wounded by criticism of her, as any spouse would be. I think it’s reasonable to assume that (the Fuhrman statements) could have some impact.” Ito has presided over the trial for its duration of more than a year. Now, in the trial’s waning days, he must decide whether the pain he suffered upon hearing of Fuhrman’s remarks — exactly what the detective said about Ito’s wife was unclear — will prevent him from being fair and impartial. The conflict-of-interest battle sent the trial into a tailspin, forcing attorneys and Simpson to appear before three different judges and raising the possibility that appellate fights could delay the trial- Defense attorneys accused prosecutors of trying to remove Ito from the case after the judge hinted he would allow the jury to hear some of the Fuhrman tapes. The detective is said to use racial slurs and speak of framing suspects on the tapes. The jury has nine black members. “Today, they came for Judge Ito,” defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. said at a news conference, referring to prosecutors. District attorney’s spokeswoman Suzanne Childs said the office would have no comment on any pending issues. Simpson says he was home alone during the June 12, 1994, knife murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Fuhrman shone as the prosecution’s star witness at the preliminary hearing, recounting how he found a bloody glove on Simpson’s estate hours after the murders. But the detective quickly became a lightning rod for controversy when the defense accused him of being a racist and cast him as the mastermind of a plot to frame Simpson. At the center of the storm are taped conversations between Fuhrman and a North Carolina professor who interviewed him from 1985 to 1994 as part of a screenwriting project about police. Simpson’s lawyers discovered the tapes, recorded by professor Laura Hart McKinny, through an anonymous tip and fought successfully for access to the information.

      Given that judges in California and many other states are elected, shouldn’t voters have the right to observe their elected officials perform their duties? That is one way voters can decide whether or not to vote for them when they are up for re-election. It is also a way for the public to determine if they see an unfair justice system and do something about it. As for who could sit through something as boring as the Simpson trial unless they had to, apparently you did, as did millions of other people.

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