Previously on TPvOJS, ‘A Jury in Jail’
On the surface, this episode was all about Fuhrman, Fuhrman, and… Gil Garcetti? No, Fuhrman. Through the discovery of the Fuhrman tapes, however, it is made quite apparent how the O.J. trial became about so much more than just O.J., Nicole Simpson, and Ron Goldman.
The Good Ol’ Boys’ Club
In order to get the Fuhrman tapes to California, Cochran and Bailey travel to North Carolina for an evidentiary hearing. While reading the transcripts of the racist statements, Cochran states what every black person is feeling: Now we have proof of what black people have known all along; there are people in authority that hate us and specifically target us. Cochran performs his usual song and dance and makes the argument for Laura McKinney (the screenwriter who recorded them) to be forced to release the tapes. Unfortunately, Judge Wood is not wooed by Cochran’s “gratuitous alliteration” and rules the tapes immaterial for the Simpson case. Being in the Deep South, Cochran’s earlier proclamations are proven when Bailey is able to evoke his white privilege and achieves a favorable ruling in an emergency appeal hearing through his good ol’ boy charm.
With the tapes released from North Carolina, Judge Ito grants the defense and prosecution access to the audio files. This scene was masterfully directed and portrayed by the actors in that no words were uttered, but the audience could feel the opposing emotions of anticipation and dread being felt by The Dream Team and Clark/Darden, respectively. The first excerpt played from the records truly set the tone for the rest of the episode and simultaneously made me quite irate: “People don’t want niggers in their town. People don’t want Mexicans. They don’t want anybody but good people.” So who are these “good people” you speak of Mark Fuhrman? Imbeciles like you who judge people solely on the color of their skin?
Peggy, you’ve got some splanin’ to do!
We finally get an answer as to why Peggy York, Judge Ito’s wife, seemed to hesitate in signing the spousal conflict form when she came across Fuhrman’s name in episode four. York reprimanded Fuhrman in the past for writing KKK on a Martin Luther King poster. As a result, Fuhrman has resentment towards her and makes this very clear in the tapes: “She just sucked and fucked her way to the top.” The plus side is that his bigotry is not limited to racism but includes misogyny as well.
This revelation concerns both sides of the case. For the defense, if a mistrial is rendered, then they know that the prosecution will not allow Furhrman to testify during the second trial; there goes their LAPD discrimination argument. As a testament to the show’s proper representation of the lawyer, Kardashian clearly loathes the thought of a mistrial, but we the audience know it’s because he can not fathom having to support Simpson all over again. For the prosecution, a mistrial would mean millions of tax payers’ dollars lost and an admittance of incompetence. Surprisingly, Darden is in favor of a mistrial, but Clark does not support this notion in fear of Simpson walking on the statute of “double jeopardy.” Frustrated by Clark not initially following his advice to not employ Fuhrman as a witness, Darden proclaims to Clark, “You wanted a black face but you never wanted a black voice.” This sums up the definition of the being the “black token” quite perfectly.
Judge Ito makes a public statement in court that he is wounded by the criticism that his wife on the tapes and how unfortunately women in male dominated careers are targets for such treatment. It was very subtle, but I loved Clark’s reaction to this proclamation through her body language. Sarah Paulson conveyed contempt for Ito as he defends his wife, even though he himself berated Clark for her hair style and childcare needs. After numerous tense seconds pass by, Ito finally states that another judge will decide if he can remain impartial and stay on the case.
Right Carriage, Wrong Horse
Despite Clark begging with her soul, Ito decides that the tapes are a “national concern” and should be played in court. In an epic performance, an enraged Darden declares that the tapes will just add to the circus that is the O.J. case and that the court, i.e. Ito, has allowed it to become chaotic. When threatened with being held in contempt, Clark steps in to defend Darden, but she too upsets the court and asks if she needs to remove her watch and jewelry to prepare for going to jail.
After cooler heads prevail, Ito allows for an excerpt of the tapes to played in court without the jury being present: “I used a girl as a barricade. I threw the bitch down the stairs. We tortured those guys…Falsifying a police report is just doing police work…We had blood all over us and had to wash our hands. We cleaned our badges and our faces.” This portion of the episode was the most upsetting for me. I have always been well aware of the brutality that black people have had to face from some police officers, but this statement was still quite chilling. It’s like when you suspect your partner is cheating on you, but it still pains you to witness it firsthand.
Despite the direct admission of falsifying evidence and reports, Ito decides that the only portion of the 13 hours of audio tapes the jury will hear are the following two sentences: “We have no niggers where I grew up. And that’s where the niggers live.”
Infuriated, Cochran gives a press conference and calls Ito’s ruling one of the cruelest decisions in American history. It is here that the audience really beings to understand just how much bigger than O.J. this trial had become. As stated by Fred Goldman, the trial had now become the Fuhrman trial and not about the man who murdered his son and Nicole Simpson. Clearly, Cochran wished to unmask the ugly reality of the LAPD and their racist practices. Simpson just happened to be the perfect vessel for this message. I don’t believe Cochran really thought that O.J. was actually framed by the LAPD, but he utilized his case to expose the police’s unethical practices he witnessed in his other client’s cases. Right carriage, wrong horse.
On his return to the stand, Fuhrman assuredly loses the case for the prosecution by evoking his fifth amendment right to all of Cochran’s questions, including if he planted or manufactured any evidence in the case.
Eh, What’s Up Doc?
Here are a few facts from Dateline’s “The People vs. OJ Simpson: What the Jury Never Heard,” and the I.D. documentary entitled “O.J: Trial of the Century” that pertain to this episode:
- Alan Dershowitz has actually referred to The Dream Team as The Nightmare Team. Hce has said that the group did not get along and there was a tremendous amount of tension behind the scenes.
- The jury was not privy to footage of the Bronco chase, the cops’ interview with O.J., nor his emotional farewell letter. Clark was worried this evidence could play sympathetic to the jury but detective Lange saw these exclusions as a missed opportunity.
- The jury also did not hear the testimony of a witness by the name of Skip Junis. On the night of the homicides, Junis was at LAX picking up his wife who worked for American Airlines. Junis saw Simpson get out of his limo and immediately throw items (potential evidence) into the trashcan from his gym bag. Unfortunately, the police was not able to recover the trash before it was picked up.
- When Darden apologized to Clark for having O.J. try on the gloves, she told him it was okay and that they were never going to win the case anyway if the glove demonstration made them lose.
- In an interview with Dateline, Douglas referred to the Fuhrman tapes as “manna from heaven.”
- Detective Tom Lange feels Fuhrman tanked the case by pleading the fifth to the planting or manufacturing evidence relevant to the case.
This episode was the best by far in the entire series. Again, the most compelling part of the show is that many of the issues brought up in the trial are still very important in our society today. Let us not lose sight that Fuhrman was an actual police officer who was sworn to protect and serve the community, but was prejudice against black people and women. I realize that Fuhrman is just one person, but clearly our system is flawed to allow someone with 66 allegations of brutality to remain in law enforcement.
TPvOJS-E9 = 10/10