Tag Archives: notorious trials

Fallen Reporter Brings Warring Factions Together

We all were at war,

Then gathered in Clark’s honor.

Became family.


Author Joe McGinniss hosted a gathering to honor and memorialize Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Robin Clark a few days after he was killed in a car crash. The memorial was held at a house in Beverly Hills McGinniss was renting while he attended the Simpson trial. (Even though McGinniss occupied one of the highly coveted courtroom media seats, and had presented a letter from a publisher who had contracted with McGinniss to write a book about the trial, he never did.) The gathering included not only the trial press corps, but members of the defense and prosecution teams and Simpson’s sister and brother-in-law, Shirley and Bennie Baker. Although the trial judge, Lance Ito, was also invited, he declined and asked me to represent him.

Here’s a short excerpt from Anatomy of a Trial about that remarkable evening:

“People hugged and mingled and talked quietly after arriving. I couldn’t help but think that no one would ever have known that some of these people were on opposite sides in a double-murder trial. McGinniss talked about some of the conversations he had had with Clark, including one about the difficulty Clark had reconciling himself with his father, an educated man who became a derelict and hung out on street corners with ne’er-do-wells.

“’Recently,’ McGinniss said, ‘Robin had started writing about his father and gave me the few first pages for an assessment. After reading them, I told him to keep going.’

“But, of course, the rest of the story died with Robin in the car crash.

“McGinniss invited anyone else who want to speak to do so.

“AP reporter Deutsch stepped forward. After relating several anecdotes about Clark, she surveyed the group. While most of the people present were strangers at the beginning of the Simpson case, she observed, ‘Like it or not, we have become a family.’

“But that was a brief and rare moment of unity in an otherwise distinctly dysfunctional ‘family,’ rife with bickering, rivalry, contempt, envy and disparate philosophies, perspectives and goals.”

One Death and Potentially a 2nd One Shakes the Press Corps

I wrote two haiku on this date 20 years ago because of two events that never made onto the main stage of the trial. One was momentously tragic, the other the prelude of what could have been parent’s worst nightmare — and a less violent echo of the reason for the trial.

Robin Clark was here.

No promise of tomorrow.

Empty courtroom seat.


Here’s the lead in as I included in Anatomy of a Trial. The day was Friday, August 4, three days before I wrote the above haiku:

“I didn’t get to the courtroom until the mid-morning break. When court reconvened, a woman I hadn’t seen before was sitting next to me. She wore the proper badge for the seat, so I figured she had worked a deal with Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Robin Clark, who normally sat there. Strange, I thought. Clark never missed a day in court.”

It turned out, he never sat there or in any other courtroom seat again.

Neither did the woman in Robin’s courtroom seat that Friday. She was a friend of Robin’s cousin. Both she and the cousin were visiting from out of town. After court that day, Robin took the women sightseeing. All three were killed in an automobile crash in Malibu.

It hit all of the media covering the trial hard. Robin was very well liked. I also wrote in Anatomy about the moving memorial gathering members of the media held for him. Another very well liked member of the media, magazine writer/book author Dominick Dunne didn’t attend the gathering.

He was the subject of the second haiku I wrote on August 7, 1995, which was.

His son was missing

Gone for a mountain bike ride

More Dunne tragedy?


I picked up the story in Anatomy: 

” The answering machine in my office the following Monday was jammed with messages making sure I knew about Robin. Then Dominick Dunne called who had a crisis of his own. His son, an experienced cyclist, hadn’t returned from a weekend ride in the Arizona mountains. Dunne was frantic and planned to stay by the phone rather than come to court. He might even go to Arizona, he said. He wanted Ito to know why he wasn’t there and hoped it wouldn’t be held against him and take away his courtroom seat.

“Dunne didn’t lose his seat, but because he was still waiting for news about his son, he did miss the memorial service. ”

The “More Dunne tragedy?” reference was to the fact that his daughter, the actress Dominique Dunne, was murdered in the early 1980s, and his ex-wife was crippled with multiple sclerosis.

Dunne’s son returned from his ride several days later, unharmed and unaware of the ruckus he had caused.