Gil Garcetti, who served as Los Angeles County District Attorney from 1992-2000 and oversaw the charging and prosecution of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman, said in an interview last week that he didn’t pick Marcia Clark to prosecute Simpson and, in fact, didn’t even want her to do so.
Clark, Garcetti said, made mistakes, ignored the prosecution’s jury consultant’s advice and that the case suffered from being tried downtown instead of in Santa Monica which was the jurisdiction where the murders were committed.
I found Garcetti’s assertions surprising and, frankly, rather specious.
First, Garcetti was THE District Attorney. He was the boss, the head of the District Attorney’s Office. So if he didn’t pick Marcia Clark to prosecute Simpson, who did? If he didn’t want her, why didn’t he tell her no, if she said she wanted the job?
Second, if she made mistakes, didn’t Garcetti bear at least some responsibility? He was head of the office. The trial was nearly 10 months long. If he saw his deputy make mistakes or didn’t agree with her strategy in this most visible trial in the world and whose outcome would reflect on him and his office, and could possibly affect his re-election in 1996, shouldn’t he have spoken to her, stopped her or possibly replaced her?
Third, is Garcetti blaming Marcia Clark for the case being tried downtown instead of Santa Monica? Garcetti’s the one who filed the charges downtown and did so in June of 1994. There was wide speculation, both in the media and privately, that in doing so the D.A. had made a big mistake.
I don’t know why Clark didn’t listen to her jury consultant, but it was obvious to me that she didn’t. What I don’t understand is why Garcetti is now criticizing her for that. Whether or not he was micromanaging the trial, which was alleged often during those nearly 10 months, surely he had an eye on things enough to realize that she wasn’t using the expertise of the consultant his office had hired and was paying for (with taxpayer money). Did he have such a complete hands-off policy that he provided no oversight or direction.
And if Clark did do such a lousy job, why did he give her a nearly $15,000 bonus right after the case was over — a move that angered a large number of Clark’s fellow deputy district attorneys.
Maybe he intended the bonus to be an incentive to do better, given how poorly she performed.
His treatment of a deputy D.A. who had a solid record of wins and successfully prosecuted Lyle and Erik Menendez in the retrial in which they were charged with murdering their parents (and are now serving life sentences), seems to have been proof that Garcetti didn’t reward great performance. Instead of giving Menendez prosecutor David Conn a bonus, Garcetti demoted him from the downtown major crimes unit to an outlying office in Norwalk.
Or did someone else, not the man who was supposed to be in charge of the entire Los Angeles County district attorney operation, give or approve giving Clark a bonus and exile one of his best prosecutors of heinous criminals (Menendez brothers, cocaine dealing TV star Dan Haggerty, serial killer Bill Bradford and Cotton Club murderers) to the suburban city of Norwalk?
I really do find Garcetti’s criticism of Clark wanting.
Thanks for mentioning the late David Conn. A few years ago, I read the accounts of the Memendez trial and the aftermath. David Conn was featured in a glowing L.A. Times profile, in which he said something about wanting to be the District Attorney some day.
Soon after he was sent to Norwalk.
Immediately after the Simpson case broke, Garcetti assigned Conn to help Clark with the Grand Jury. When the Grand Jury was dismissed, Garcetti put him back on the Menendez re-trial.
Garcetti also gave a big bonus to Darden. Later, Garcetti gave a mea culpa of sorts. He said he might not have given them bonuses had he known Darden and especially Clark (4.2 million) would receive big book deals.
Garcetti also gave Hodgman a bonus of $17,760, the largest of the three. Unlike Clark and Darden, however, Hodgman neither cashed in with a book nor left the D.A.’s office.
An excuse Garcetti gave for the bonuses was something like “Their private lives were invaded to a degree I’ve never seen.”
Hodgman’s life wasn’t scrutinized that much. But Clark was (to put it mildly) well compensated for whatever indignities she had to endure. And she was highly praised by the media throughout as I’ve already stated.
What I find odd about Hodgman is the apparent fact that he sought and was granted control of all the trial evidence and exhibitions. That should be public information, forever. How can an interested party be granted such material?
For Gregg Jarrett’s opinion on the subject, Google “Gregg Jarrett, Gil Garcetti.”
This story seems to have blown over with surprisingly little attention.
Gregg, whom I remember and who worked for Court TV during the Simpson trial, repeats pretty much what I’ve been saying/writing — and have published blog posts about — for years. His problem,which was similar to mine when “Anatomy of a Trial” was published nine years ago, is old news. The FX miniseries rekindled — and kindled, for those too young to remember — interest, thanks to a masterful advance/promotion/marketing job and fairly credible acting jobs from most of the cast. Even Gil’s hinder-end covering piece that prompted Gregg’s rebuttal did make much of a stir.