There are certain conspiracy theories that seem to endure, despite all evidence to the contrary: The moon landing was an elaborate hoax, Bigfoot is real, and Los Angeles police officers planted the "bloody glove" at O.J. Simpson's estate. I was CNN's chief anchor throughout Simpson's entire criminal proceedings, from the preliminary hearing through his acquittal. I must go on the record and state my sincere belief that O.J. Simpson murdered his former wife Nicole and her friend, Ron Goldman. I never stated my views privately or publicly during the criminal trial or the civil trial that followed.
I must also state my outrage over recent claims by former prosecutor Christopher Darden that Simpson's lead lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, manipulated the glove's lining so that it would not fit when his client tried it on in open court. He didn't need to. The glove had probably shrunk from blood and time. In addition, Simpson was wearing a latex glove (to keep from contaminating the evidence) while attempting to place the leather one over his hand. The real crime (pun intended) occurred when Darden asked Simpson to put on the glove in front of the jury.
Case closed. End of story. The glove didn't fit, so the jury had to acquit. There was no way that moment should have happened. But it did. CNN's Los Angeles-based legal analyst for the trial was criminal defense attorney and former L.A. prosecutor Roger Cossack. He believed, as did I, that the prosecution did a credible job of establishing Simpson's ownership of the glove through circumstantial evidence. It would be crazy and reckless to allow Simpson an opportunity to place it on his hand, because it would unnecessarily give control of the evidence to Simpson himself. Even a poor actor like Simpson (think The Naked Gun) could make it appear that the glove was too small. Cossack was told by sources in the DA's office that it was decided that Simpson would never be given the opportunity. However, word quickly spread among reporters, and all that changed on a dime when defense attorney F. Lee Bailey taunted Darden in court, saying he didn't have the guts (insert stronger language here) to have O.J. try on the glove. The rest, as they say, is history. So was the prosecution.
I was at a dinner party a few years later and was seated immediately next to Chris Darden. The conversation inevitably turned to the case, and he looked at me and, in an accusatory style, said, "You are the reason we lost."
I took the "you" to refer to those of us in the media. I quickly responded sternly and loudly: "You arrived tonight in a new Mercedes. You scored a million-dollar book deal for In Contempt (and three books since), you signed with William Morris, and yet you lost the case. I never took sides on the air. I was always fair and tried my best to report accurately. But this one is all on you, not me."
Apparently, that chip on Darden's shoulder is still there, because now, nearly 17 years later, Darden alleges that Johnnie Cochran, who died five years ago from brain cancer, manipulated the glove and therefore the case. It's a pity, really. The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman felt that justice was denied in the criminal trial, although Simpson was later found liable for the deaths in the civil case that followed. Simpson currently sits in a Nevada prison on unrelated charges of kidnapping, robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon in Las Vegas. (Karma, as they say, is a bitch.) Clearly, the verdict in Simpson's criminal case left many people with a bad taste. For Chris Darden, I respectfully submit that that taste is sour grapes.
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