Previously on TPvOJS, ‘The Race Card’
As one could have predicted, the defense begins to insinuate the LAPD’s motivation for improperly handling evidence is to frame O.J., a black man, for the murders. What was not so predictable was the personal attacks that Marcia Clark had to tackle in and outside the courtroom, as well as Cochran’s alleged violence towards his ex-wife.
Marcia: Bitch or Babe?
Man or woman, if you do not feel some type of compassion for Marcia Clark this episode, then you are dead inside, my friend.
Adding to the tremendous stress that she is enduring due to the trial, Clark is in tumultuous divorce ligation with her inconsiderate husband Gordon. In response to her requesting more child support, Gordon petitions Clark for primary custody of their two kids. He complains about that while she is fighting her trial of the century, he has had to pitch in and the kids have to spend too much time with babysitters.
You are their father, sir. It’s you’re job to pitch in!
In an attempt to spend more time with her children, Clark objects to court proceedings running late to have an impromptu hearing regarding a witness, Rosa Lopez, for the defense. Insensitively, Cochran asks Judge Ito if his client will not benefit from the witness’s testimony due to a mere babysitting problem. Really Johnny? Ito recesses for the day, but then Garcetti discourages Clark in preparing for the trial at home with her kids. To Clark’s dismay, she has to call Gordon and ask for him to watch the kids, a favor she undoubtedly regrets later in the episode.
During court the next day, Judge Ito wants confirmation from the defense that the court can hear Lopez’s complete testimony in one day. Callously, Cochran retorts it is possible bar any child crises from Clark. Clark states that she is offended as a woman and a mother who has to work a 70-hour workweek and still take care of her family.
I was so happy that Clark stood up for herself and other working mothers. This is the first time that Cochran has rubbed me the wrong way and his male privilege was clearly showing here. Not in all families, but usually the mother, working or not, is the one who is responsible for picking up the children from school or taking care of them when they get sick. For this reason, women with children have to leave work early or can not stay late in the office while married men who have children, like Cochran, have their wives to handle things. This can create the false assumption that women are not willing to work hard or are not as dedicated to the job.
This deceleration earned Clark some points with women watching the trial, but they were quickly seized when Gordon claims she is using the children as pawns since he was the one to watch the children last night. Poor guy. Imagine having to “baby-sit” your own children.
On top of everything else, Clark was berated on TV, in magazines, and even on the radio for her “frumpy” clothes and unfortunate hairstyle.
It was so infuriating to see other women participate in this misogynistic rhetoric while the male lawyers were being discussed for how they were handling the actual ligation of the trial. Seems like that jury consultant was right. The data doesn’t lie.
Garcetti apologizes to her for the sexist media, but then seemingly agrees with their opinion on her appearance when he suggests she meet with a few media consultants. Clark caves in to the pressure and goes to the beauty parlor for a new look. While the hair stylist promises to make her look like Farrah Fawcett, he unfortunately makes her look like Rick James. Clark walks into the courtroom with such confidence, only to have everyone snickering and glaring at her new look. Even Judge Ito tactlessly brings attention to it and Clark is brought to the brink of tears.
I did notice in documentary footage that her hairstyle changed, but I didn’t realize it was in response to the public’s perception of her. This was so painful to watch. I really liked Darden extending to her some words of encouragement even after their earlier dispute over Fuhrman.
Finally, Clark is pushed to her breaking point when Garcetti shows her that naked pictures of herself have been published in the tabloids. Horrified, Clark realizes they are photos she took on vacation with her first ex husband. In real life it was her first ex husband’s mother who leaked the nudes. Clark tries to keep her composure in court that day, but understandably weeps at the prosecution table. Showing mercy and a little heart, Judge Ito thankfully calls for a recess. Dang had everyone seen the pictures already? Darden later comforts Clark in her office and jokingly states that at least she looked good in the photos.
Apparently Darden and Clark became closer due to the stressfulness of the trial, which fed rumors that they had a romantic relationship.
We finally get to see the lawyers in action as they cross-examine witnesses on the stand.
Darden questions Denise Brown about O.J.’s treatment of her sister Nicole. Ms. Brown sobs as she recalls one night where O.J. crassly grabbed Nicole’s crotch and proclaimed, “This is where babies come from and this belongs to me.” Clark and Darden think that this is strong, moving testimony but Cochran views Denise’s statements as contrived and rehearsed.
I can’t help but to agree with Cochran. The jury’s faces expressed disdain rather than sympathy. Win for the defense?
After some cunning tactics by Johnnie Cochran, Judge Ito startlingly allows the defense to interrupt the prosecution’s case in order to bring in a witness, Rosa Lopez, who is a flight risk. Clark rattles Lopez on the stand by asking her if she is truly serious about immediately leaving for EL Salvador, then why does she not have a flight scheduled. Furthermore, Clark implies that Lopez cannot be that serious about departing the United States when she has filed for unemployment.
Did her employers fire her because she was attracting too much attention by being a witness for the trial?
Finally, Clark obliterates any of the credibility Lopez has left when she asks her exactly at what time, 10 or 10:15 pm, did she observe O.J.’s white Bronco parked outside his home. Quite comically, Lopez’s response is whatever time “Mr. Johnnie” said that she said and even resorts to speaking in Spanish to avoid answering the question. I would not be surprised if Cochran coaxed Rosa Lopez to lie about when she saw the Bronco outside. Thankfully, this gives Clark at least one moment of victory amongst the overwhelming sense of defeat she faced this episode. Win for the prosecution.
The Dream Team lives up to their name as they insinuate racism is the cause behind the poor practices of the LAPD. The first one on the chopping block is detective Vannatter. Cochran questions him if it is normal procedure for the police to leave a crime scene in order to inform the victim’s ex spouse about the murder. According to Cochran, O.J. became an immediate suspect after Fuhrman revealed to Vannatter that the former football star had a history of domestic violence against Nicole; the police went to the Rockingham expecting to find evidence against O.J. Now being an abuser does not mean that you are a murderer, but it definitely does not rule you out.
The next detective, Tom Lange, ends up testifying before he even takes the stand. Seemingly sharing some nostalgia over the jokes they used make about another police officer, Cochran gets Lange to admit his resides in Simi Valley just before the court proceedings.
I was a little confused though in how this scene played out. It appears that Cochran simply wanted Lange to admit where he lived, like he already knew the answer. However, Lange just so happens to mention moving to Simi Valley. It’s not like Cochran directly asked a question that he knew would reveal Lange’s residency. So how could Cochran know he would bring it up?
We later learn why this is indeed a “gotcha moment” when Cochran asks Lange on the stand what he did with O.J.’s shoes that were taken as evidence. Lange admits to putting them in the trunk of his car and driving back to his home in Simi Valley. Cochran quickly points out that Simi Valley is the same neighborhood where the police who brutally beat Rodney King live. Clearly, Cochran wants the jury to start to suspect Lange of biases and of being a possible racist due to the company that he keeps. Birds of a feather…. Shapiro further brings Lange’s ethics into question when he reveals that in all 28 years of the detective serving in the LAPD, Lange has never took evidence from a crime scene, brought it home with him, and then waited the next day to book it into evidence.
I have got to go with the defense on this one. What was Lange thinking? He states that he could not have turned the evidence in that night. Is that because the evidence room is closed after 5 pm or something? If so, what is the proper procedure in turning in evidence when a crime is being investigated outside regular work hours? Quite appropriately, Clark utters, “Shit” after Lange is removed from the stand. Shit indeed. Win for the defense.
The third ” Rockingham Stooge,” Mark Fuhrman, finally takes the stand and is questioned by Clark. Furnham informs the jury on how he found a knit cap and glove near Ron Goldman’s body, bloody footprints leading away from the scene to alley, and a bloody print on the doorknob to the back gate. Clearly the murderer was bleeding as he fled. Remember O.J. had a cut on his left hand when the police first interrogated him.
At O.J.’s home, Furhman also testifies to seeing blood on the Bronco and a bloody glove that resembles the one at the crime scene near the guesthouse where Kato Kaelin stayed. In an effort to counter such damming proof, Bailey fumblingly and unsuccessfully attempts to imply that both gloves were at Bundy and Fuhrman planted the second glove at Rockingham. However, Bailey redeems himself by painting Fuhrman as a racist to the jury. Without hesitation, Bailey frames the question of had the detective within the last ten years used the racial slur “nigger” to describe African Americans in several ways. Fuhrman predictably denies the allegations, but the seed of doubt has already been planted. This scene depicts verbatim the footage I have seen in documentaries. I wonder if Clark is regretting yet putting Fuhrman on the stand. Darden warned her. Win for the defense.
Eh What’s Up Doc?
Here are a few facts from the Investigation Discovery (I.D.) show entitled Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals episode “O.J. Simpson: Kato Speaks,” the A&E documentary entitled “The Secret Tapes of the O.J. Case: The Untold Story,” and the Trial I.D. documentary entitled “O.J: Trial of the Century” that pertain to the show:
- On the stand, Denise Brown testified to going out to dinner with Nicole, Ed McCabe (her date) and O.J. At O.J.’s home, Denise makes the mistake of proclaiming that O.J. takes Nicole for granted. In response, O.J. violently throws Nicole against the wall and throws everyone outside his house.
- Kato Kaelin testified to going to dinner with O.J. around 9:25 pm on the night of the murders. They arrived back home around 9:36. According to the prosecution, this established the beginning of the 1 hour and ten minutes for when O.J. committed the murders. Kaelin also stated that he helped O.J. pack his bags into the limo that night, but that O.J. told him to not touch a particular bag; that bag has never resurfaced.
- Like Cuba declared in last week’s episode, O.J. has a significant amount of accomplishments to boast about. At the University of Southern California, Simpson rushed for more than 1700 yards and made 22 touchdowns during his senior year alone. O.J. won the Heisman trophy in 1978 and went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. His successful athletic career earned him induction into the Football Hall of Fame.
Well That’s News to Me
- After discovering that Cochran was having an affair, his first wife alleged that Johnnie hit her on the head on several occasions in a memoir she wrote during the trial.
- Darden has a daughter who was 15 during the time of the trial.
- Judge Ito was not highly respected by some other judges and lawyers in regards to how he ran the courtroom. He was considered, as Clark stated, a “media whore” and was too consumed with the celebrity aspect of the trial.
- Dennis Schatzman, a columnist for the Los Angeles Sentinel (an African-American owned newspaper), was an O.J. sympathizer and considered Darden to be on the wrong side of the case.
- In addition to the blood, Fuhrman observed a shipping label with O.J.’s name on it in the Bronco, pointing to it being Simpson’s car.
This episode definitely fulfilled my criteria for great TV: the capability to evoke strong emotion. After not being her biggest fan last week, the show now has caused me to empathize with Marcia Clark. Clearly, she was scrutinized in the media for her looks and not for her competency as a lawyer. However, all of us women know that if Clark looked like Scarlet Johansson, then she would not have been taken seriously as a prosecutor. She simply could not win. The reveal of Cochran’s alleged domestic abuse and his condescending remarks towards Clark has tainted my high opinion of the deceased lawyer. It’s these types of situations that make me feel torn between my blackness and my gender at times.
On a lighter note, I am looking forward to more of Bailey’s hilarious one-liners and more cross-examination of the witnesses. The only thing I did not like about this episode were the scenes with the broadcasting executives; they just seemed to be out of place and added no real value to the storyline.