Joe D. Nohavicka’s Pick:
My choice for Lit Legal Reads today is In Contempt, by Christopher Darden. Who is Christopher Darden? He, was the second-seat prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson trial — The “Trial of the Century.”
Who is OJ!? Oh, yeah, this case is from a while ago.
Let’s dial back:
His real name is Orenthal James Simpson; his nickname, “the Juice.” OJ’s aunt gave him the name Orenthal, which she said was the name of a French actor she liked. OJ played for USC in the late 1960s as a superstar running back and then went pro. He was a broadcaster, actor, and advertising spokesman. He had an amazing career, until everything went to hell.
Back to the trial:
It was June 13, 1994, at 12:10 a.m, Nicole Brown, OJ’s ex-wife, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were found stabbed to death outside her condominium in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. OJ was arrested and tried on two counts of murder for the June 12, 1994 slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.
The lead prosecutor was Marcia Clark; second in command at trial — Christopher Darden. Chris took a lot of heat for even being involved in the case. He was ridiculed in the media by the defense attorneys representing OJ and was under constant scrutiny up until what is known by some as the greatest trial blunder in the history of criminal defense.
Here is what happened:
One of OJ’s lawyers goaded Chris into asking O.J. (who was not testifying) to put on the leather glove that was found at the scene of the crime during the trial. It was a trick. The glove didn’t fit OJ’s hand. The scene delivered a savage blow to the prosecution’s case and gave birth to Johnny Cochran’s iconic phrase, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!” Christopher had the blame for the blunder placed completely on him. He insisted on making it happen against the advice of everyone on the prosecution’s team.
But the trial was a circus anyway. Just to give you an indication as to how much of a circus it was: The best selling Halloween mask in 1995 was the Judge Ito mask – he was the judge presiding over the OJ trial.
In Contempt, is Christopher’s view of the trial and the strange things that happened back then. It is an honest and well-written book that will keep you interested up to the end. And you can decide whether OJ did it or not.
If you have any interest in the practice of criminal law, In Contempt is a must-read.