Tag Archives: Ronald Goldman

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Loser

Former Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, with guns blazing, is rising from the ashes of her humiliating defeat with the 1995 acquittal of O.J. Simpson in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Clark’s resurgence is due, in part, to a wave of sympathetic publicity with a recent airing of an FX multi-part melodrama.

She has narrowed the focus of her shotgun spray of blame that riddled her 20-year-old multi-million-dollar co-written post-trial memoir and taken aim on just the trial judge.

Although never camera or reporter-notebook shy in the years since penning that memoir, Clark is capitalizing on her newfound fame by targeting Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, who retired last year, with a revisionist trial  history extraordinaire.

The first fabrication that hit my radar was an interview a few weeks ago in which Clark claimed that Ito was the one who came up with the idea for Simpson to try on the so-called bloody gloves that led to defense attorney Johnnie Cochran’s now-infamous line, “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Despite being in the courtroom and behind the scenes every day, meeting with Ito daily–sometime several times a day, keeping up with the media coverage and reading, hearing and writing a lot about the case in the years since, I had never heard anything about Ito coming up with the idea to have Simpson try on the gloves.

Rather than rely solely on my memory, although I would have  had to be deep in the clutches of dementia to have forgotten something that significant, I checked with a reporter who attended every day of the trial and probably had the best access to all of the lawyers in that case, and, eventually to Simpson himself.

“I never heard any such thing and think it’s an effort to rewrite history,” the reporter said.

I also checked with one of Ito’s law interns who worked in his chambers and was privy to every aspect of the case. Like the reporter, the law intern knew about or had heard anything like Clark’s assertion.

“Uughh,” the law intern, who is now a practicing attorney with her own firm, wrote in reply to my question. “I was there that day and I have no memory of the gloves idea coming from Judge Ito. As usual he had the job of ruling on their asinine ideas. She [Clark] continues to disappoint as a female attorney role model. She really has no moral compass.”

I’m pretty sure I know about the ethics of a judge presiding over a criminal case suggesting to lawyers on either side how they should present evidence. For confirmation, I contacted a judge who sat on the LA court bench during years I worked there, and who has since retired and is currently a private judge.

Such a comment would be very inappropriate for a judge to make, the retired judge said. “Even if it takes the form of ‘why don’t you’ do this or that, it would look like the judge was trying to assist that side. That is clearly unethical.”

To have done so without defense attorneys present would constitute ex parte communication, which is, without a doubt, judicial misconduct.

Given the scrutiny that trial, the judge and the parties got, it’s a sure bet that any such suggestion would have been found out and the judge would have been subject to reprimand, at the very least. Plus, Ito was absolutely assiduous to make sure he did everything completely by the books to prevent a mistrial or be overturned on appeal, should Simpson be convicted.

In other words, Clark pulled that little gem of finger pointing from some orifice other than her mouth.

In another interview, this time on Late Night with Seth Meyers, she said she had never had a judge be so openly sexist as Judge Ito was.  Judge Ito is many things, but sexist isn’t one of them, to which, I dare say, females in his personal and professional life, will attest.

Clark is quoted in Monday’s New York Daily News describing Ito as “unprofessional” and criticized him for allowing the trial to be “turned into a circus” because he allowed it to be televised and for “his infatuation with the media.”

Ho boy.

First, at one point in a hearing on whether to allow cameras, Clark advocated for televising the trial.

“Allowing cameras to remain in the courtroom would give the public the opportunity to see what the evidence actually is and to hear the truth,” she told Ito during a November 7, 1994, hearing on whether or not to televise the trial. “The best way to refute unfounded rumors and wild speculative theories is to permit everyone to see and hear the evidence that is presented in court. … No matter how thorough and fair reporters are, their coverage cannot equal the evidence of witnessing a trial first hand.”

Second, although plenty of antics went on nonstop outside the courtroom and around the courthouse, there was no circus in the courtroom — plenty of video footage exists and the trial transcript proves that. However, Clark herself was one of the clowns Ito struggled to keep reined in.

Attorneys’ conduct so egregious, including that of Clark — in spades — that Ito, after repeatedly fining them, finally resorted to issuing a court order spelling out what they could and could not do — down to “no eye rolling.” I included the entire text of that order on pages 136-137 in my book, Anatomy of a Trial. Even then, he continued to have to fine them and threaten to hold them in contempt because they refused to behave. The amount in fines Ito levied against the Simpson trial attorneys — on both sides — exceeded that of any criminal trial in the state’s history at that time.

So far as being “infatuated with the media” is concerned, disappointment or even contempt for many of them would be more accurate as he witnessed their excesses and making him the brunt of their exaggerations and misrepresentations.

In that Daily News interview, Clark said, “He sits down for a six-part interview in the middle of the trial about his life. Who does this?”

What Clark is misremembering is (1)  Ito didn’t sit down for a six-part interview and (2) an interview he did do wasn’t in the middle of the trial.

Months before the Jan. 23, 1995, opening statements, a TV reporter asked to interview Ito in connection with the opening of an L.A. museum exhibit of the World War II Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp in Wyoming, which is where a man and woman who married and became Ito’s parents met. After long consideration and conferring with a number of people, he finally decided to do it, but only with the assurance that the subject would not be the Simpson case but would focus only on the exhibit and the issue of Japanese internment. He also insisted on several other conditions, including that the station not promote the interview in advance and would air it only once and that would be during an 11 p.m. newscast.

As described on page 25 of Anatomy of a Trial the station violated every condition, including buying full-page newspaper ads and splitting the interview into six parts, which aired in six consecutive broadcasts.

Then there was this in a June 14, 2016,   Chicago Tribune article:

“Clark said that while she was generally pleased with the FX series, it failed to capture how Ito was ‘entranced by his media moment’ and ‘the steady stream of celebrities coming in and out of chambers’ during the trial. Sometimes the celebs Ito had invited backstage demanded to meet her, too, she said.

“‘I’m actually trying a lawsuit … I don’t need to meet Jimmy Dean,” she said of one encounter with the crooner-turned-sausage king. “I mean, I love your sausage, sir!'”

Did celebrities show up at the trial? Yes, as more and more it became the place to be seen. Many were, themselves, members of the media. And yes, some did meet Ito in his chambers, although I would hardly describe it as a “steady stream.” And one, which became a disastrous fiasco, was entirely my doing,  which I have rued every since.

But Jesus, Jimmy Dean? I saw neither of them. Neither did I hear or know of any who even asked, much less demanded to meet Clark. I don’t know of any who thought she was worth their while. So maybe her bruised ego is prompting her to make such a claim now.

“This is disgusting,” the reporter I talked to about Clark’s glove claim said. “She is trying to sell her books and somehow find absolution for her inept performance 22 years ago. To attack Ito is beyond the pale.”

What does Ito have to say about all of this?

Nothing. Which is what he said during, and has continued to say since, the trial. At least not publicly, which is why Clark thinks she can say whatever she wants without consequence. Given that Ito has consistently refrained from speaking out against his critics, Clark can be pretty sure he won’t now.

While Clark and her ilk have capitalized on their fame from the trial over and over and in many forms and formats, Ito hasn’t. He hasn’t written a book or gone on the rubber-chicken circuit or hauled in huge speaking fees like Clark has and is continuing to do.

I’m pretty sure he won’t speak up this time either. Clark probably isn’t worth his while.

 

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Petrocelli a “Hollywood Lawyer”?

According to this Hollywood Reporter headline, he is.

Without making a political statement or moral judgment about his choice of clients, such as Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling,Daniel Petrocelli is one of the best lawyers I’ve seen in action or dealt with behind the scenes. I saw him almost every day during the 1997 O.J. Simpson civil trial in Santa Monica, in which Petrocelli represented the parents of Ronald Goldman in a wrongful death lawsuit against Simpson. No matter who he interacted with his demeanor was invariably pleasant. He exuded confidence and integrity, yet appeared to be always tenacious and focused. And, of course, he prevailed. Whether or not Simpson murdered Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, I wasn’t unhappy Petrocelli won his case (Simpson was ordered to pay Goldman’s parents $33.5 million), primarily because he was so likable and put on an excellent case.

So here Petrocelli is representing Donald Trump against plaintiffs who claim they were defrauded by Trump’s Trump University.

He appears to be an agnostic, when it comes to representing his clients. “My goal is simply to advocate a client’s cause,” he is quoted as saying in this article. “He didn’t hire me for my political views. He hired me for my legal skills.”

We’ll see if Trump gets his $1,200-an-hour (Petrocelli’s fee) worth.

 

What was Wrong with the Gloves Scenario

Tierney Brickner, writing for E! (I can’t duplicate the actual logo on my computer), did me the great favor of posting side-by-side footage of last night’s scene in the American Crime Story miniseries about the OJ Simpson trial of Cuba Gooding Jr.courtroom scene in which he re-enacted  Simpson trying on the gloves that were found at the scene of Nicole Brown’s and Ronald Goldman’s murders and behind Simpson’s house and that of the actual trial.

When I watched the drama last night, the trying-on effort seemed pretty much as I remembered it. The side-by-side footage confirmed it. Here’s the link so you can check it out: http://www.eonline.com/news/749108/just-how-accurate-was-the-infamous-glove-scene-from-the-people-v-o-j-simpson-watch-chilling-side-by-side-comparison

Some things going on in the background during the gloves demonstration and elsewhere in the series, however, that weren’t accurate, such as:

  1. People in the spectator seats standing up to get a better view of Simpson trying to pull on the gloves.
  2. People in the courtroom being ordered by the bailiff to stand when trial judge entered the courtroom.
  3. People in the spectator seats not rising when the jurors entered the courtroom.
  4. People standing and milling around when the jury was in the courtroom.
  5. The trial judge, Lance Ito, banging his gavel when he declared court to be in recess.

From my vantage point in the back of the courtroom where I had a full view of the courtroom, I saw no one stand to get a better view of the glove demo. I also know that if anyone had done so, one of the sheriff’s deputies stationed there would have immediately instructed them to sit down or to leave.

The judge’s instruction to his bailiff was to directive people in the courtroom to remain seated when he took the bench, so at no time did the bailiff order spectators to rise when Ito entered.

The judge’s instruction to his bailiff was for everyone in the courtroom to rise when the jurors entered the courtroom and to remain standing until they were seated in the jury box.

No one ever stood or moved about the courtroom when court was in session.

Ito didn’t bang or even rap a gavel at any time during the trial, whether declaring court in recess or for any other reason. How do I know?Although Ito had a couple of ceremonial and souvenir gavels in his chambers, he  didn’t keep or use a gavel on the bench.

All of that might seem inconsequential  or like who-cares minutia, but it’s important to me because much of it plays into the media-created misperception that he ran a  loosey-goosey courtroom.

Despite what people think they know about Ito’s courtroom management, he ran a tighter courtroom, with rules of what was allowed and what wasn’t allowed posted on the courtroom door and on the rows of spectator seats, than many other judges. Plus, he issued court orders several times during the trial addressing disruptive conduct, primarily by members of the media, and had a number of them removed from the courtroom for failing to observe those orders.

One thing that was apparently very wrong with the miniseries drama was that Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden went rogue in having Simpson try on the gloves. Marcia Clark has in interviews and writing said that Darden didn’t go it alone in the Simpson glove demo, that she was on board with it. That, however, I don’t know first hand.

The Wrong and the Right of OJS Episode 4

Most of what FX got wrong in the fourth installment of its People vs. O.J. Simpson miniseries was either minutia most people wouldn’t care about or reinforced misperceptions they already have, or even worse, created misperceptions that those who weren’t born then or were too young to have known about it.

First is the trial judge, Lance Ito’s glee or even giddiness upon learning that the Simpson case had been assigned to him. Just a few months before the murders Simpson would be accused of committing even happened, Ito spoke at a conference I also participated in, in which he said any judge who wanted a high-profile trial should have his head examined. Ito had past experience with trials like that and knew they created headaches no one would want. I had also had some experience in that arena with both the Rodney King-beating and the Menendez brothers-parricide trials.

Ito was much more astounded and flummoxed by the crazy media coverage than “star-struck.” He was a highly regarded jurist and probably one of the smartest individuals I’ve known. His flaw, so far as I’m concerned was his naiveté. He neither welcomed nor craved the media attention.

Of all the TV talk shows that Faye Resnick appeared on in connection with her rushed-to-print book, it was surprising that the miniseries producers chose Larry King Live for its production. When Ito learned that the book was to be released before the jury was seated, he instructed me to contact all the popular TV talk shows and ask to delay booking Resnick until he could sequester the jury. Larry King is the only talk show host who agreed to do so.

Otherwise, the niggling things that bothered me was the lousy casting of Ito’s bailiff, Guy Magnera. I look more like Magnera than the guy that played him in this show.

The preliminary hearing judge in the case was Kathleen Kennedy-Powell, an attractive middle-aged woman, not the old white guy who was cast in that role.

One would have thought that with all the attractive, leggy blonde actresses to chose from the show’s casting director would have had no problem finding one who looked credibly like the defense team’s jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, instead of the gnome who got the part.

On the plus side, Joseph Siravo is a dead-ringer in both looks and passion as Fred Goldman, whose son Ronald was murdered along side Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown.

I understood the focus group’s assessment of Marcia Clark. No matter what her intentions or self-image, she came across as a haughty know-it-all who consistently vamped into the courtroom late almost every morning, even though Ito complied (reluctantly) with her request to start the court day half-an-hour later than the normal time.

That brings me to the clocks. Ito’s courtroom had only one clock on the wall when he first got the case. After the attorneys, particularly Clark, didn’t seem to grasp the concept of time, he ordered three more — I was there the day they arrive and he had them installed. They didn’t look anything like the one in the miniseries, either. He also didn’t have his collection of hourglasses on the bench in those early days, either. He brought them out from his chambers, one by one, as another ‘subtle’ hint for the lawyers to be on time and to quit their delaying tactics.

 

 

High Profile Doesn’t Include Victims

What makes a trial high profile? Why do so many people become obsessed with some trials and not others? Among the obvious answers can include celebrity, money, glamour, sex, racial issues, unusual and/or heinous aspects of the crime, and others.

All of that and more has been the topics of many court-media conferences and workshops I’ve attended and participated in and court-media courses and workshops I’ve conducted.

It occurred to me as I watched episode 3 of the FX dramatization of the 1995 Simpson trial that almost never are the victims in a case the reason a trial becomes one of great media interest. With rare exception, those who lost their lives or suffered because of the crimes the defendants are charged with committing become invisible in media coverage of trials.

Why is that, I wondered. My thought is it’s because the victims are not why large numbers of people are captivated by or even particularly interested in trials — and the media know that.

So what the media deliver is what they do know will result in high TV ratings and print circulation and that is sensationalism, whether generated by celebrity, or whatever.

To their credit, the Goldman and Brown families have crusaded to keep Ronald and Nicole in the public eye and consciousness. The families a many crime victims, despite tireless efforts, have not been as successful.

Refreshing Perspective, Thoughtful Insight

So much is being written, rehashed, recalled, misremembered and made up these days, it was refreshing to open the Milwaukee newspaper’s opinion section today and read a column about the Simpson case and miniseries drama based on characters in the case by someone who didn’t claim to have been there, knew someone who was there, remembered exactly where they were/what they were doing  when…

James E. Causey’s “After 20 years, reassessing O.J.” led off with a quote from Simpson: “You wanna make this a black thing. Well I’m not black. I’m O.J.”

Simpson made that statement, Causey writes, “after he was arrested in 1994 in the brutal deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her companion Ronald Goldman, says a lot, not only about the case, but about black and white perceptions in America.”

Rather than dissect and regurgitate what he read and saw in the media about the case, the trial and the parties involved, Causey took the long view, examining black and white America’s reactions to the not-guilty verdicts and race relations in this country then and since, with stops at Zimmerman and in Milwaukee along the way.

Causey wrote the best thing in all that I’ve read yet about FX’s
“The People vs. O.J. Simpson” when he concluded with, “The wound of racism never heals with a Band-Aid. It takes dealing with some hard truths and honesty. This series may open up a much-needed dialogue that we need to have about race.”

Two Sisters 20 Years Later

The 20th anniversary of everything O.J. Simpson murder trial is over, but some memories — and some who were part of lots of other peoples’ memories — are still making the news.

Enter Kim Goldman, sister of one of the Simpson-trial murder victims, Ronald Goldman. Kim is on a book tour, promoting her “Media Circus: A Look at Private Tragedy in the Public Eye.” Media Circus: A Look at Private Tragedy in the Public EyeThe book is a collection interviews with survivors of violent crimes who were the focus of media attention.

She was interviewed herself by Mike Dow for The Maine Edge/Buzz   in an article titled, “Kim Goldman 20 years after the Simpson verdict.

This isn’t the first book Kim has published since that infamous trial in 1995. She has also written, Can’t Forgive: My 20-Year Battle with O.J. Simpson and with other members of the Goldman family His Name is Ron: Our Search for Justice and I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.

More interesting, at least to me, is how some people whose lives were upended in a most tragic and unbelievable way by the June 17, 1994, murders of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown for which Brown’s ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, stood trial, have managed since Simpson’s Oct. 3, 1995, acquittal.

Kim has been on a quest to out Simpson as the killer and the 1995 trial verdict wrong.

Nicole Brown’s sister, Denise, has been busy, too. Her energies have gone toAbout Nicole Box creating a foundation to honor Nicole and to advocate against domestic violence.

It’s hard to imagine the anguish the Brown and Goldman families have gone through.