(5 of 12)
As Simpson's designated team leader, Cochran swiftly set up a war room in his Wilshire Boulevard offices. The lawyers worked nights, weekends and holidays. Says Kardashian: "I got to hand it to Johnnie. When we were working, we always had a meal. We would work Saturdays, Sundays and nights. It was Mexican food with the platters laid out, or Chinese food or Italian food. We had great spreads! Ribs. We all gained weight."
NOT READY TO RUMBLE
HARVEY GISS SAW MARCIA CLARK RISE through the ranks as a district attorney and considers her something of a protage. But back in July 1994, less than three weeks after the double murder, the veteran prosecutor was already saying her case was as good as lost. For two reasons: one, O.J. Simpson was an American hero and thus "an unconvictable defendant." Second, "they've filed this case downtown, which means they're going to get a downtown jury. A black jury will not convict this defendant. Forget it. It's all over." Says Cochran: "I know the downtown jury panel. So I felt that one of the first big breaks was obviously the case coming downtown."
The prosecution team decided to reject professional help in selecting the jury. "I brought into the case the best jury consultant in America, the father of the art of jury selection, Donald Vinson," says San Francisco litigator John Martel, a prosecution adviser. "And on the first day of the trial, Dr. Vinson was asked to leave the courtroom because the prosecutors were concerned that the public might feel that the jury or the jury system was being manipulated if they were using a jury consultant." "Meanwhile," Martel continues, "Jo-Ellan Dimitrius was literally steering the ship at that point for the defense--and you saw the jury that resulted."
Even without his jury consultant Dimitrius, Cochran would have relished jury selection. "When the prosecutors kicked off 10 of the first 11 jurors, the [peremptory challenges] they used were against blacks. But every time they would do it, we would get other blacks. We had 18 [prospective] jurors in view. So I knew when they kicked one off, I could see who the next one was coming, and the next one after that. So I'll tell you quite frankly, when we got to the point where I had eight black jurors, and the alternates were so good also, I knew at the time we would at least have a diverse jury."
Repeatedly, says Martel, the prosecutors were limited by, of all things, their "high ethical standards" and what appeared to them a tremendous circumstantial case. "When I would suggest they should perhaps be preparing their witnesses very carefully, they would say, 'We don't want to be telling witnesses what to say,' " he recalls. "They were playing cricket in an alley fight." Cochran agrees: "See, they had convinced themselves they had this slam-dunk case. They really believed that. But every day things would go wrong for them."