26 September 1995, Los Angeles, California, USA
The following are excerpts from Cochrane's famous closing summation on behalf of the famous football and movie star. OJ Simpson was acquitted of the murder of his wife.
The Defendant, Mr. Orenthal James Simpson, is now afforded an opportunity to argue the case, if you will, but I'm not going to argue with you, ladies and gentlemen. What I'm going to do is to try and discuss the reasonable inferences which I feel can be drawn from this evidence.
Ultimately, it's what you determine to be the facts is what's going to be important, and all of us can live with that. You are empowered to do justice. You are empowered to ensure that this great system of ours works. Listen for a moment, will you, please. One of my favorite people in history is the great Frederick Douglas. He said shortly after the slaves were freed, quote, "In a composite nation like ours as before the law, there should be no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common country, common citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny." This marvelous statement was made more than 100 years ago. It's an ideal worth striving for and one that we still strive for. We haven't reached this goal yet, but certainly in this great country of ours, we're trying. With a jury such as this, we hope we can do that in this particular case.
I'd like to comment and to compliment Miss Clark and Mr. Darden on what I thought were fine arguments yesterday. I don't agree with much of what they said, but I listened intently, as I hope you'll do with me. And together, hopefully these discussions are going to be helpful to you in trying to arrive at a decision in this case where you don't compromise, where you don't do violence to your conscious (sic), but you do the right thing. And you are the ones who are empowered to determine what is the right thing. Let me ask each of you a question. Have you ever in your life been falsely accused of something? Have you ever been falsely accused? Ever had to sit there and take it and watch the proceedings and wait and wait and wait, all the while knowing that you didn't do it? All you could do during such a process is to really maintain your dignity; isn't that correct? Knowing that you were innocent, but maintaining your dignity and remembering always that all you're left with after a crisis is your conduct during. So that's another reason why we are proud to represent this man who's maintained his innocence and who has conducted himself with dignity throughout these proceedings. Now, last night, as I thought about the arguments of my colleagues, two words came to mind. And I want to--I asked my wife this morning to get the dictionary out and look up two words. The two words were "Speculative" and "Cynical." Let me see if I can get those words that she got for me.
And I want you to tell me what does it mean to speculate, what does it mean to be cynical, as I thought about my colleagues' arguments and their approach to this case and their view of this case. "Cynical" is described as contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives, gloomy distrustful view of life. And to speculate--to speculate, to engage in conjecture and to surmise or--is to take to be the truth on the basis of insufficient evidence. I mention those two definitions to you because I felt that much of what we heard yesterday and again this morning was mere speculation.
People see things that are totally cynical. Maybe that's their view of the world. Not everybody shares that view. Now, in this case--and this is a homicide case and a very, very, very serious case. And of course, it's important for us to understand that. It is a sad fact that in American society, a large number of people are murdered each year. Violence unfortunately has become a way of life in America. And so when this sort of tragedy does in fact happen, it becomes the business of the police to step up and step in and to take charge of the matter. A good efficient, competent, noncorrupt police department will carefully set about the business of investigating homicides. They won't rush to judgment. They won't be bound by an obsession to win at all costs. They will set about trying to apprehend the killer or killers and trying to protect the innocent from suspicion.
In this case, the victims' families had an absolute right to demand exactly just that in this case. But it was clear unfortunately that in this case, there was another agenda. From the very first orders issued by the LAPD so-called brass, they were more concerned with their own images, the publicity that might be generated from this case than they were in doing professional police work. That's why this case has become such a hallmark and that's why Mr. Simpson is the one on trial. But your verdict in this case will go far beyond the walls of Department 103 because your verdict talks about justice in America and it talks about the police and whether they're above the law and it looks at the police perhaps as though they haven't been looked at very recently. Remember, I told you this is not for the naive, the faint of heart or the timid. So it seems to us that the evidence shows that professional police work took a backseat right at the beginning. Untrained officers trampled--remember, I used the word in opening statement--they traipsed through the evidence.
Because of their bungling, they ignored the obvious clues. They didn't pick up paper at the scene with prints on it. Because of their vanity, they very soon pretended to solve this crime and we think implicated an innocent man, and they never, they never ever looked for anyone else. We think if they had done their job as we have done, Mr. Simpson would have been eliminated early on.
Now, at the outset, let's talk about this time line for the Defense. I said earlier that Mr. Darden did a good job in his argument, but one thing he tended to trip over and stumble over was when he started to talk about our case. He doesn't know our case like we know our case. It was interesting, wasn't it, because first he stood up and started talking about the time line being at 10:15. Then he said, well, they didn't prove anything, but, "Golly, well, it may have been as late as 10:30." That's interesting, isn't it? Never heard that before.
And so as we look then at the time line and the importance of this time line, I want you to remember these words. Like the defining moment in this trial, the day Mr. Darden asked Mr. Simpson to try on those gloves and the gloves didn't fit, remember these words; if it doesn't fit, you must acquit. And we are going to be talking about that throughout. So to summarize, if you take the witnesses that we presented who stand unimpeached, unimpeached, and if you are left with dogs starting to bark at 10:35 or 10:40, 10:40 let's say--and we know from the most qualified individuals, Henry Lee and Michael Baden, this was a struggle that took from five to 15 minutes. It's already 10:55. And remember, the thumps were at 10:40 or 10:45--O.J. Simpson could not be guilty. He is then entitled to an acquittal
And when you are back there deliberating on this case, you're never going to be ever able to reconcile this time line and the fact there's no blood back there and O.J. Simpson would run into an air conditioner on his own property and then under her scenario, he still has the knife and the clothes. But what does she tell you yesterday? Well, he still has the knife and he's in these bloody clothes and presumably in bloody shoes, and what does he do? He goes in the house. Now, thank heaven, Judge Ito took us on a jury view. You've seen this house. You've seen this carpet. If he went in that house with bloody shoes, with bloody clothes, with his bloody hands as they say, where's the blood on the doorknob, where's the blood on the light switch, where's the blood on the banister, where's the blood on the carpet? That's like almost white carpet going up those stairs. Where is all that blood trail they've been banting about in this mountain of evidence? You will see it's little more than a river or a stream. They don't have any mountain or ocean of evidence. It's not so because they say so. That's just rhetoric. We this afternoon are talking about the facts. And so it doesn't make any sense. It just doesn't fit. If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
And so she (Ms. Clark) talks about O.J. being very, very recognizable. She talks about O.J. Simpson getting dressed up to go commit these murders. Just before we break for our break, I was thinking--I was thinking last night about this case and their theory and how it didn't make any sense and how it didn't fit and how something is wrong. It occurred to me how they were going to come here, stand up here and tell you how O.J. Simpson was going to disguise himself. He was going to put on a knit cap and some dark clothes, and he was going to get in his white Bronco, this recognizable person, and go over and kill his wife. That's what they want you to believe. That's how silly their argument is. And I said to myself, maybe I can demonstrate this graphically. Let me show you something. This is a knit cap. Let me put this knit cap on (Indicating). You have seen me for a year. If I put this knit cap on, who am I? I'm still Johnnie Cochran with a knit cap. And if you looked at O.J. Simpson over there--and he has a rather large head--O.J. Simpson in a knit cap from two blocks away is still O.J. Simpson. It's no disguise. It's no disguise. It makes no sense. It doesn't fit. If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.
Consider everything that Mr. Simpson would have had to have done in a very short time under their timeline. He would have had to drive over to Bundy, as they described in this little limited time frame where there is not enough time, kill two athletic people in a struggle that takes five to fifteen minutes, walk slowly from the scene, return to the scene, supposedly looking for a missing hat and glove and poking around, go back to this alley a second time, drive more than five minutes to Rockingham where nobody hears him or sees him, either stop along the way to hide these bloody clothes and knives, et cetera, or take them in the house with you where they are still hoisted by their own petard because there is no blood, there is no trace, there is no nothing. So that is why the Prosecution has had to try and push back their timeline. Even to today they are still pushing it back because it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't fit.
As I started to say before, perhaps the single most defining moment in this trial is the day they thought they would conduct this experiment on these gloves. They had this big build-up with Mr. Rubin who had been out of the business for five, six, seven, eight years, he had been in marketing even when he was there, but they were going to try to demonstrate to you that these were the killer's gloves and these gloves would fit Mr. Simpson. You don't need any photographs to understand this. I suppose that vision is indelibly imprinted in each and every one of your minds of how Mr. Simpson walked over here and stood before you and you saw four simple words, "The gloves didn't fit." And all their strategy started changing after that. Rubin was called back here more than all their witnesses, four times altogether. Rubin testified more than the investigating officers in this case, because their case from that day forward was slipping away from them and they knew it and they could never ever recapture it. We may all live to be a hundred years old, and I hope we do, but you will always remember those gloves, when Darden asked him to try them on, didn't fit.
Consider the EAP b found under Nicole Brown Simpson's fingernails where they try to come in and tell you it is a degraded BA and a cross-examination. Again Blasier got Matheson to admit there was no specific support in any of the literature for a BA degraded into a B, and this was by all accounts a double-banded B. The reason they didn't want to pursue that, because she may have scratched somebody with a b type, but they never pursued those things. The second hat at Bundy. The Bundy location inside, when the Defense investigator finds this hat, nobody wanted to collect it. They refused in fact to collect it. When we in this trial, before you, discovered that evidence had been moved at Bundy and that a key piece of evidence, the piece of paper, had disappeared, they didn't do anything to find out about it that we know of. I am concerned about those kind of things.
So we heard last night and we are treated to this morning some very, very interesting observations by my learned colleague, Mr. Darden.
Now, this is interesting because Mr. Darden started off by saying, well, you know, we are going to put together this other piece, it is not really one of the elements of the crime of murder, motive, but we are going to talk to you about motive now. We are going to tell you and convince you about the motive in this case, and then he spent a long time trying to do that. As I say, he did a fine job and addressed the facts and conjured up a lot of emotion. You notice how at the end he kind of petered out of steam there, and I'm sure he got tired and he petered out because this fuse he kept talking about kept going out. It never blew up, never exploded. There was no triggering mechanism. There is nothing to lead to that. It was a nice analogy, almost like that baby analogy, the baby justice and the house of fire. You don't have to go through the house of fire. You have to keep yourself on the prize, the house of justice, a city called Justice, and that is what this is leading to, so this is what it is all about. The court--Mr. Darden looks up there, says, well, gee, judge, whatever limited purpose, but let's talk about the limited purpose for which all of his argument was about. When you talk about this evidence of other crimes, such evidence was received--excuse me, sir--and may be considered by you only for the limited purpose of determining if it tends to show the characteristic method or plan or scheme about identity or motive. For the limited purpose for which you may consider such evidence, you must weigh it in the same manner as you do all other evidence in the case. You are not permitted to consider such evidence for any other purpose. So this isn't about character assassination of O.J. Simpson, as you might think at first blush. This is about Mr. Darden trying to conjure up a motive for you. And at the outset let me say that no, none, not one little bit of domestic violence is tolerable between a man and a woman. O.J. Simpson is not proud of that 1989 incident. He is not proud of it. But you know what? He paid his debt to that and it went to court. He went through that program. And the one good thing, and no matter how long Darden talked, from 1989 to now there was never any physical violence between O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson
It is wonderful that we live in the age of videotape because it tells you about who O.J. Simpson. Cindy Garvey tells you how O.J. Simpson was. He was this mean dark brooding person at this concert, that he was going to kill his ex-wife because he didn't like his seats. Because he didn't like his seats or because he didn't invite her to dinner. That is how silly what they are talking about in this case as he tries to play out this drama. But let me show you, rather than talk--a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me show you this video. You watch this video for a moment and we will talk about it. This is for Chris Darden.
(At 4:19 P.M. a videotape was played.)
You will recognize some of the people in this videotape after awhile. Mr. Simpson kissing Denise Brown, Miss Juditha Brown, Mr. Louis Brown. Talking to a friend. That is his son Justin who he kisses, smiling and happily waving. Mr. Brown is happy. Laughing and falling down and laughing again, bending over laughing. You see that. You see that with your own eyes. You will have that back in this jury room. How does that comport with this tortured, twisted reasoning that he was angry in some kind of a jealous rage? Did he look like he was a jealous rage to you? Your eyes aren't lying to you when you see that. Thank heaven we have videotape. I didn't tell you about that in opening statement. Do you think that is pretty compelling? Thank heaven we have that. And we know in this city how important videotapes can be when people don't want to believe things even when they see on it videotapes and you saw that yourself.
And even after that video, like any proud papa, you know what O.J. Simpson did? Took a picture, a photograph with his daughter. Let's look at this photograph for a minute, if you want to see how he looks while he is in this murderous rage, while this fuse is going on that Darden talks about. Where is the fuse now, Mr. Darden? Where is the fuse? Look at that look on his face liked (sic) any proud papa. He is proud of that little girl and who wouldn't be proud of her
Then we know that at nine o'clock he talked to Christian Reichardt, his friend Dr. Christian Reichardt, and you saw Chris Reichardt come in here and talk to you. I thought he made a very, very, very good witness from the standpoint of what he had to say. He told you that O.J. Simpson sounded even happier than usual. He was more jovial, he got his life back together and he was moving on. Isn't that interesting? Isn't that an interesting way of looking at circumstantial evidence. Let me show you how we differ in this case. A doctor witness comes in and says O.J. Simpson is jovial at nine o'clock on June 12th. Pretty good evidence, wouldn't you say? I think you would love to have that. Anybody would in a case where you are supposedly in a murderous rage. Instead of Chris Darden standing here and saying, well, that is pretty tough evidence for us to overcome, he says O.J. Simpson was happy because he was going to kill his wife. Now, if you believe that, I suppose I might as well sit down now and I am probably wasting my time. I don't think any of you believe that. That is preposterous. It flies in the face of everything that is reasonable. You have these two reasonable hypotheses, his isn't reasonable, but assume it is reasonable, you would have to adopt this, that he is jovial, he is happy. They make a date for that next Wednesday and O.J. Simpson returns from back east. You remember that. That is the testimony. Mr. Darden tries to make a big thing of the fact, well, gee, you know, golly, was he depressed about the fact that they had broken up or they had finally broke up? He said, yeah, he had been down. He never said he was depressed. Said he was down or upset and who wouldn't be. Remember the last questions I asked. If you had just ended a 17-year relationship and it was over, you would feel down for a short period of time until you got your life on track. You wouldn't go kill your ex-wife, the mother of your children. O.J. Simpson didn't try to kill or didn't kill Nicole Brown Simpson when they got a divorce, when they went through whatever they went through when Faye Resnick moved in.
In this case in opening statement I showed you Bob Shapiro's foresight and wisdom. He had these photographs taken I think on June 15th. Instead of praising this lawyer who was interested in the truth, the Prosecution says, well, they went to Dr. Huisenga. That wasn't really his doctor. Isn't that preposterous. Dr. Huisenga, by all accounts, is a qualified doctor. He was the raiders team doctor. I suppose he is supposes qualified. This is Mr. O.J. Simpson's body as it appeared on June 15th. Wouldn't you expect to see a lot of bruises and marks on that body? You see his back. Some of these aren't very flattering, but this is not about flattery; this is about his life. Now, on his hands--there is some slight abrasions on his hands, but nothing consistent with a fight like this. You know it. I know it. We all know it. We will talk more about this, this so-called fishhook cut and where he got that. It will become very clear when we talk about demeanor where that came from. Miss Clark wants to try and confuse that, but that is very, very clear. So with regard to Mr. Simpson's physical condition, I don't want to just tell you to take my word, stand here and say, oh, yeah, he was in great shape on that day or he looked good or whatever. Fortunately we had photographs again, we had graphic evidence of this man's body. This man had not been in a life and death struggle for five to fifteen minutes.
And just before we take the dinner break, let's talk briefly about these witnesses from the family and what they had to say. The first. We first called Arnelle Simpson, and you saw Arnelle on the stand. Arnelle Simpson, the Defendant's daughter, born the day he won the Heisman trophy
And she told you how her father reacted when he got the news that his ex-wife had been killed. She told you. She had never before heard her father sound like that, how upset he was, how he lost control of himself, how distraught he was. You heard and you saw her on that stand. That is why we called her, so you would have better understanding, because we knew, I knew there would come a day that Marcia Clark would stand here and say, well, you know, he wouldn't react like he does when somebody gets this information, just like he did yesterday, because what Miss Clark forgot was I examined Detective Phillips. And you look back through your notes. The first thing that O.J. Simpson said to Detective Phillips was, "What do you mean she has been killed?" And then he kept repeating himself and repeating himself, and Phillips, to his credit, said he became very, very upset, kept repeating himself, and Phillips gave the phone to Arnelle Simpson.
So they can make--she can again theorize, fantasize all she wants. Well, he didn't ask, well, it was a car accident? Have you ever had some bad news given to you? There is no book that you go to. The only book you should go to is the bible or your God, whomever you believe in to help get you through it. There is nothing that says how you would handle yourself in those times. These Prosecutors don't understand that. They would stand here and tell you that that is preposterous. This man was upset. And you are going to see at everything he did from that moment that he found out that his ex-wife had been killed was consistent only with innocence absolutely that day. And so Arnelle Simpson helps us in that regard.
Now, when you want to think about the depths to which people will go to try to win, when you want to talk about an obsession to win, I'm going to give you an example. There was a witness in this case named Thano Peratis. This is a man who's their man who took O.J. Simpson's blood. This is a man who had a subpoena, at one point said he could have come down here and testify. They didn't call him. By the time we wanted to call him, he's unavailable because of his heart problem, remember? So what we did is, we read you his grand jury testimony I believe and we played for you his preliminary hearing testimony. And in that testimony, it's very, very consistent. He's been a nurse for a number of years. You saw him. He works for the city of Los Angeles. He says that when he took this blood from O.J. Simpson on June 13th, he took between 7.9 and 8.1 cc's of blood. That's what he said. That's real simple, isn't it? We knew that. He's sworn to tell the truth under oath both places, the grand jury and preliminary hearing. Pretty clear, isn't it? Pretty clear. You remember in my opening statement, I told you, you know, something's wrong here, something's sinister here, something's wrong, because if we take all their figures and assume they took 8 cc's of blood, there's 6.5 cc's accounted for, there is 1.5 cc's missing of this blood. There's some missing blood in this case. Where is it?
It took all four detectives, all four LAPD experienced detectives to leave the bodies. They had to notify the Coroner. They didn't have a criminalist to go over to notify O.J. Simpson. Who's fooling who here? This is preposterous. They're lying, trying to get over that wall to get in that house. You don't believe so? You're talking about saving lives. Remember what Arnelle said. First of all, they all make this big mistake. They forget and they say, "Well, when we leave from the back, we go right in that back door of the house there, go right in the back door." But they forgot. Arnelle Simpson comes in here and testifies you can't go in the back door because remember, Kato had put on the alarm. You had to go around the house to the front. Arnelle had to open the keypad to let them in, remember? You think who knows better? You'd think she knows better or they know better? She had to let them in. So they're worried about dead bodies and people being in that house and saving lives? Who goes in first? Arnelle Simpson goes in first. These big, brave police officers, and the young lady just walks in there first. They don't go upstairs looking. They just want to be inside that house and make her leave to give Fuhrman a chance to start what he's doing, strolling around the premises and doing what he's doing there.
Then we come, before we end the day, to Detective Mark Fuhrman. This man is an unspeakable disgrace. He's been unmasked for the whole world for what he is, and that's hopefully positive.
And they put him on the stand and you saw it. You saw it. It was sickening. And then my colleague, Lee Bailey, who can't be with us today, but God bless him, wherever he is, did his cross-examination of this individual and he asked some interesting questions. Some of you probably wondered, "I wonder why he's asking that." He asked this man whether or not he ever met Kathleen Bell. Of course, he lied about that.
Then Bailey says: "Have you used that word, referring to the `n' word, in the past 10 years? "Not that I recall, no. "You mean, if you call someone a Nigger, you had forgotten it?
"I'm not sure I can answer the question the way it's phrased, sir." And they go on. He says, "Well--" And then pins him down. "I want you to assume that perhaps at some time since 1985 or `86, you addressed a member of the African American race as a Nigger. Is it possible that you have forgotten that act on your part? "Answer: No, it is not possible. "Are you, therefore, saying that you have not used that word in the past 10 years, Detective Fuhrman?
"Answer: Yes. That is what I'm saying. "Question: And you say under oath that you have not addressed any black person as a Nigger or spoken about black people as niggers in the past 10 years, Detective Fuhrman? "That's what I'm saying, sir. "So that anyone who comes to this court and quotes you as using that word in dealing with African Americans would be a liar; would they not, Detective Fuhrman? "Yes, they would”.
Let's remember this man. This is the man who was off this case shortly after 2:00 o'clock in the morning right after he got on it. This is the man who didn't want to be off this case. This is the man, when they're ringing the doorbell at Ashford, who goes for a walk. And he describes how he's strolling. Let me quote him for you. Here's what he says:
"I was just strolling along looking at the house. Maybe I could see some movement inside. I was just walking while the other three detectives were down there." And that's when he walks down and he's the one who says the Bronco was parked askew and he sees some spot on the door. He makes all of the discoveries. He's got to be the big man because he's had it in for O.J. because of his views since `85. This is the man, he's the guy who climbs over the fence. He's the guy who goes in and talks to Kato Kaelin while the other detectives are talking to the family. He's the guy who's shining a light in Kato Kaelin's eyes. He's the guy looking at shoes and looking for suspects. He's the guy who's doing these things. He's the guy who says, "I don't tell anybody about the thumps on the wall." He's the guy who's off this case who's supposedly there to help this man, our client, O.J. Simpson, who then goes out all by himself, all by himself.
Now, he's worried about bodies or suspects or whatever. He doesn't even take out his gun. He goes around the side of the house, and lo and behold, he claims he finds this glove and he says the glove is still moist and sticky. Now, under their theory, at 10:40, 10:45, that glove is dropped. How many hours is that? It's now after 6:00 o'clock. So what is that? Seven and a half hours. The testimony about drying time around here, no dew point that night. Why would it be moist and sticky unless he brought it over there and planted it there to try to make this case? And there is a Caucasian hair on that glove. This man cannot be trusted. He is sinful to the Prosecution, and for them to say he's not important is untrue and you will not fall for it, because as guardians of justice here, we can't let it happen.
Why did they then all try to cover for this man Fuhrman? Why would this man who is not only Los Angeles' worst nightmare, but America's worse nightmare, why would they all turn their heads and try to cover for them? Why would you do that if you are sworn to uphold the law? There is something about corruption. There is something about a rotten apple that will ultimately infect the entire barrel, because if the others don't have the courage that we have asked you to have in this case, people sit sadly by. We live in a society where many people are apathetic, they don't want to get involved, and that is why all of us, to a person, in this courtroom, have thanked you from the bottom of our hearts. Because you know what? You haven't been apathetic. You are the ones who made a commitment, a commitment toward justice, and it is a painful commitment, but you've got to see it through. Your commitment, your courage, is much greater than these police officers. This man could have been off the force long ago if they had done their job, but they didn't do their job. People looked the other way. People didn't have the courage. One of the things that has made this country so great is people's willingness to stand up and say that is wrong. I'm not going to be part of it. I'm not going to be part of the cover-up. That is what I'm asking you to do. Stop this cover-up. Stop this cover-up. If you don't stop it, then who? Do you think the police department is going to stop it? Do you think the D.A.'s office is going to stop it? Do you think we can stop it by ourselves? It has to be stopped by you.
But the capper was finding those tapes, something that you could hear. Lest there be any doubt in anybody's mind, Laura McKinny came in here, and I can imagine the frustration of the Prosecutors, they've had the glove demonstration, they have seen all these other things go wrong and now they got to face these tapes.
We owe a debt of gratitude to this lady that ultimately and finally she came forward. And she tells us that this man over the time of these interviews uses the "N" word 42 times is what she says.
And so-called Fuhrman tapes. And you of course had an opportunity to listen to this man and espouse this evil, this personification of evil. And so I'm going to ask Mr. Harris to play exhibit 1368 one more time. It was a transcript. This was not on tape. The tape had been erased where he said, "We have no niggers where I grew up." These are two of 42, if you recall. Then this was his actual voice.
(At 10:00 A.M., Defense exhibit 1368, a videotape, was played.)
This is the word text for what he then says on the tape. Now, you heard that voice. No question whose voice that is. Mr. Darden concedes whose voice that is. They don't do anything. Talking about women. Doesn't like them any better than he likes African Americans. They don't go out and initiate contact with some six foot five inch Nigger who has been in prison pumping weights. This is how he sees this world. That is this man's cynical view of the world. This is this man who is out there protecting and serving. That is Mark Fuhrman.