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Still, Cochran acknowledges that this was a turning point in the case. "If you look back," he says, "people at that time understood this is gonna be a war. When it came to issues of race it was not gonna be any patty-cake." The war would climax over the Fuhrman tapes, a pyrrhic victory for the prosecution. Says defense lawyer and Santa Clara University law-school dean Gerald Uelmen: "When I think of how close we came to not having those tapes, it sends shivers down my spine."
Chris Darden was devastated on the day a portion of the tapes was played for the jury. After court he sat in his office more despondent than anyone had ever seen him. Though he appears to be something of a loner, in fact Darden likes to be surrounded by people. During the trial his clerks often took him out for a beer or would just sit in his office with him, saying nothing. The day the jury heard Fuhrman use the word nigger, deputy district attorney Alan Yochelson said, "Hey, Chris. Let's get outta here. Let's go work out." But at the Los Angeles Athletic Club Darden could barely concentrate on exercise. He sat on a bench in front of his locker, put his head down and kept saying, "I can't believe this. I can't believe this." Says Yochelson: "It was very painful for Chris, because he recognized that he was being forced to vouch for someone who was repugnant in his community."
IF THE GLOVE FITS
DARDEN WANTED HIS FACE-OFF WITH Cochran. And he got it. "I know Chris is a mano-a-mano guy," says Cochran. "He likes to one-up you. He likes to put it away. He likes to be real tough in trial and really impressive." Cochran says. During a break in testimony about Simpson's purchase of the leather gloves from Bloomingdale's, Shapiro and Cochran decided to try the gloves on for themselves. "They felt small to me," Cochran says, "and we both told [Simpson], 'They're going to ask you to put the gloves on.'" It was the kind of dramatic touch Darden liked. Says Cochran: "Sure enough, just like we said, Darden said, 'Your honor, we'd like to have a little demonstration.'"
Darden had been told by his supervisors not to make a show of the gloves, but impetuously he went ahead. Darden's bosses sat upstairs watching television in disbelief. If Darden hadn't asked Simpson to try on the gloves, would Cochran have? "I don't know," Cochran says now. "I don't like to ask questions or do things when I don't know what the answers are going to be. Darden forgot that. That's something he is going to have to learn." Hodgman offers this assessment: "If we had to do it over again, we would do the glove demonstration differently."
TO SPEAK OR NOT TO SPEAK
BY ALL ACCOUNTS, SIMPSON WAS EAGER TO speak in his own defense. Says one defense source: "Bailey was the only member of the team who kept arguing that O.J. should take the stand. That's one reason O.J. liked him. He wanted to take the stand. Bailey kept saying, 'You've got great charisma. You'll blow them away.'" Cochran says he put his client through mock cross-examinations, and that he was "a very compelling witness." In the end, though, Cochran acknowledges, "We were just concerned about all these things we had kept out. I mean there were doors we had kept closed about alleged domestic violence stuff...lots of [other] stupid stuff that they never proved."