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THE SIMPSON LEGACY / LOS ANGELES TIMES SPECIAL REPORT : Trial & Error: FOCUS SHIFTS TO A JUSTICE SYSTEM AND ITS FLAWS : Weighing the Necessity of Change : How One Case May Reshape Criminal Justice in America : 'How I Would Have Won'

October 08, 1995

Other prosecutors trouble-shoot the performance of the L.A. County district attorney's office in the O.J. Simpson trial:

* VINCENT BUGLIOSI, former Los Angeles prosecutor, who won convictions of Charles Manson and his followers in 1971.

"I would have introduced all the incriminating evidence. I have never seen or heard of a case where the prosecution made the decision not to introduce a great amount of incriminating evidence. Let me give you three examples.

First, on the morning after the murders, Simpson out of his own lips admitted to the police that he was dripping blood all over his car and his home on the night of the murders. This is on the 32-minute audio recording, which I have heard. And mind you, this was several hours before the LAPD withdrew any blood from his arm. So there could not have been any opportunity to sprinkle or plant any blood, which is pure moonshine anyway.

The police ask Simpson about the blood and he says he cut himself. They ask him how he did it. His response, and these are the exact words, was, 'I don't know.'

Later, they ask him again about how all the blood got on his car and his house and his exact words were, 'I have no idea, man.'

We are not talking about a scratch or a nick, and it was not the cut in Chicago that he talked about. That couldn't explain it. So, you say to the jury, 'What is the likelihood that around the very time his former wife and her male companion are brutally stabbed to death, he innocently cuts his middle finger? One out of a million? One out of 100,000?'

And have you ever cut your finger and the blood goes all over your car and your house? No, unless you are in a frantic, frenzied state--which Simpson obviously was--you wrap up your finger in a handkerchief and put a bandage on it.

The jury didn't hear about this, which is unbelievable.

Second, if he were innocent, it seems to me he would have been outraged that he was being accused of the murders and desperately would want to find out who murdered the mother of his children. Instead, he becomes completely passive, writes a farewell letter that sounds like a suicide note and refers to himself as a 'lost' person. The letter reeks of his guilt. Show me an innocent person who would write a note like that. But the jurors never saw that note.

And third, after the slow-speed chase, the police found a gun in Simpson's Bronco, along with a passport, $8,000 in cash and a cheap disguise. That is extremely incriminating evidence. The average person forms strong opinions about evidence like that. You'll have to ask them about why they didn't introduce it.

Let me say though that while I'm very critical of the D.A.'s office, they are good people, and they proved their case beyond any doubt."

*

* DONALD J. MAC NEIL, veteran deputy district attorney in San Diego.

"I would have indicted him before a grand jury. That gets you to a trial faster. The preliminary hearing became a discovery proceeding for the defense. They took a scatter-gun approach and tried out a multitude of defenses. They got a chance to find chinks in the armor of the prosecution's case.

Second, cameras in the court. I think you will rarely see cameras in a courtroom after this because of the circus-like atmosphere. It is hindsight, but I think Garcetti should have tried to persuade the judge to keep the cameras out. It had a detrimental effect on the case.

Third, the jurors. They needed a more sophisticated, more educated jury, with all the complicated DNA evidence and the like. There's not an easy answer to that one, because you don't see many professionals who can take such an extended leave from their jobs."

*

* VICTORIA TOENSING, former federal prosecutor in Detroit and deputy assistant U.S. attorney general.

"I don't think anybody could have gotten a conviction from that jury. Maybe the best you could do was a hung jury.

But I would say they [prosecutors] never took control of the courtroom. It was impossible because of that judge. They should have proposed that each side would get two hours for opening statements, so Johnnie Cochran could not argue irrelevant matters.

I would have asked for a gag order, so the attorneys could not talk during the trial.

And of course, Chris Darden should never have asked to have the gloves tried on.

Also, I would have spent more time preparing the witnesses. There seems to be a culture there where you don't prepare your witnesses thoroughly, so it won't look contrived. I think that's a mistake.

Take just one example. The day they let Mark Fuhrman lie on the witness stand that he never used the 'N word.' You already know he's a racist, so you sit down and go over how he's going to answer that question. You don't let him give an untruthful answer. That was where the trial went downhill for them.

He [Fuhrman] should have said, 'Yeah, I did.' And that would have been the end of it. They could not have gone after more evidence to contradict him if he had admitted that in the first place.

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