Tag Archives: Los Angeles County District Attorney

DA Criticizes Clark, But Gave Her Bonus

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.

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Lunch with OJS Trial Icons — and More

Conversation over ribs, yellow tail tuna and quiche on Monday focused little on the events of 18-19 years ago and a lot on what’s in the future. Looks bright for all! It was a great relief to be assured that Lance Ito does not plan to become a Texan.

Ito, Linda and me . 7.29.2013

Leaving Taix French Restaurant in Echo Park after lunch with AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito.

I haven’t lived in the Los Angeles area for more than a decade, so when Eric Garcetti stopped by our table to greet his acquaintance, Lance Ito, I was slow to recognize him as the newly elected mayor of Los Angeles and son of Gil Garcetti, who coincidently, or maybe ironically, was Los Angeles County District Attorney during the Simpson murder trial era.

Ito and Deutsch might have known who the man with the new mayor was, although they didn’t indicate that they did when Garcetti introduced him simply as Shaun Donovan. But I didn’t. I thought he might be on Garcetti’s staff when Linda, whom Ito introduced as being with the Associated Press, asked Garcetti a question. The impression I got when Donovan, eyeing Deutsch, touched the mayor’s arm and indicated that they should go, was that he felt wary about Garcetti answering, impromptu, a reporter’s question.

Although Donovan might have just been on a tight schedule, I might also have been right about the man’s caution. I was wrong, however, in thinking he might be a mayoral aid. He was the Shaun Donovan who is United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.