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ON THE EVE OF THE VERDICT, MARCIA Clark was tense. Says Lomax: "She seemed resigned. She wanted to talk about what if any good was going to come of all this, what reform of the system might happen." Cochran was in San Francisco on Monday afternoon when he learned that the jury had reached a verdict and would deliver it the next day. By 5:45 p.m. he was at the San Francisco airport, where a small group of well-wishers surrounded him at Gate 78. "I think it's going to be all right," he said quietly, flashing a smile. "But we'll see." But as he boarded the plane, a crack showed in his mask of confidence. "It's in God's hands," he said resignedly.

He spent most of the flight sipping a cola, reading, and being videotaped by a passenger. He stepped off the plane at LAX into a mob of flashing lights and anxious reporters: Did the quick verdict favor the prosecution? one asked. "Not necessarily," Cochran replied. Was he surprised at the brevity of the deliberations? "Yes," he said. "I am surprised." Then he added that he had confidence in the jurors. "This," said Cochran, "has been a very good jury." He shook off the crowd and, flanked by several airport policemen and two bodyguards, at least one of them with the shaved head, suit and bow tie of a member of the Nation of Islam, ducked into a waiting black limousine, its windows darkened against the lights of Los Angeles.


THE MORNING OF THE VERDICT, THE people who worked on the 18th floor of the Los Angeles Criminal Courts building moved in a blurred slow motion. If they spoke at all, the prosecutors at the district attorney's office did so quietly and only of matter-of-fact things like their morning cup of coffee, not about the impending decision. L.A. County sheriffs posted extra security staffers on the inside of the locked doors of the D.A.'s office. The Goldman family huddled in the prosecutors' sanctum sanctorum, a drab room occupied mostly by cubicles and shelves lined with material from the trial--hundreds of videotapes and black three-ring binders bearing such labels as DIVORCE RECORDS and FOOTPRINTS. Fred Goldman, Ron's father, chewed on a bagel as his daughter Kim explained that she felt O.K., actually hopeful, even amid the tension. She might even be ready, she confided, to marry her longtime boyfriend Ricardo.

As 10 a.m. approached, the Goldmans went downstairs to take their places in the courtroom. Upstairs about 40 people crowded around the single television, some sitting on the floor, some on tables, a few in chairs. Plainclothes L.A.P.D. officers mingled with young clerks for whom The People v. Orenthal James Simpson was the first exposure to the practice of law. In the room too was an assembly of friends of the prosecution, including Ron Shipp, and Nicole's friend Candace Garvey. Also present were Garvey's famous husband Steve, the retired baseball player, and Olympian Bruce Jenner and his wife Kris, who was at one time married to Robert Kardashian. While the court clerk read the verdict, Shipp closed his eyes and gripped a friend's hand.

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