Defense Seeks Special Prosecutor To Investigate Police
Aug. 08, 1995
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ O.J. Simpson's attorneys want a special prosecutor to investigate allegations that Detective Mark Fuhrman and possibly other police officers lied on the witness stand, papers released today said.
In a motion filed late Monday, the defense pointed to ``ample evidence establishing probable cause that Fuhrman has plainly perjured himself,'' including North Carolina interview tapes that show ``unambiguously and uncategorically'' that Fuhrman ``is a liar.''
The defense contends a special prosecutor is needed because of the prosecution's ``evident disinterest'' in investigating perjury by its own witnesses and the judge's ``failure to remedy the evil addressed herein.''
In another motion, the defense put into writing a view stated earlier in court that the prosecution should be barred from showing the jury videotape of Simpson wearing gloves the prosecution says are similar to the ones used in the murders of his ex-wife and her friend.
The defense said the prosecution ``failed to establish any link'' between the gloves Simpson wore during football broadcasts and gloves police found near the bodies and at Simpson's estate.
The motions were released as defense statistics expert Terence Speed underwent cross-examination today by the prosecution.
Fuhrman had stated emphatically _ for the record and in front of the black-majority jury _ that he hadn't used a vulgar racial slur in the last decade.
But the North Carolina tapes prove otherwise, say Simpson's attorneys, who are now eager to show that he is a lying racist who framed Simpson.
A North Carolina appeals court ruled Monday that a screenwriting professor and her tapes of Fuhrman saying the word ``nigger'' many times must travel to California, where Judge Lance Ito must decide whether to allow them into evidence.
``The ruling in North Carolina is probably the key, most important ruling in the case thus far from the standpoint of Mr. Simpson,'' defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. said.
If jurors find that Fuhrman lied on the stand, they will be entitled to throw out all of his testimony.
Analysts said it was uncertain whether Ito would allow the jury to hear Laura Hart McKinny and her tapes and, if so, just how the panelists would react, having already seen large amounts of physical evidence that Fuhrman had nothing to do with.
One thing is clear: The tapes would pump new life into the defense case, which limped into its fifth week with technical testimony so tedious that jurors hardly took any notes.
One woman who sits in the front row appeared to be dozing at times Monday. Other jurors stared into space, their eyelids at half-staff.
The jury has been sequestered since Jan. 11.
Even at the defense table, interest waned. Simpson spent much of the day reading legal papers and chatting with Cochran. Attorney Barry Scheck drew designs on a foam coffee cup during Speed's testimony.
Ito often rolled his eyes at the questions from lawyers for both sides. He noted in front of the jury that one witness was the fifth person to testify about a subject, and said it was time to move on.
Speed, a professor of statistics from the University of California, Berkeley, testified that the prosecution's DNA statistics implicating Simpson mean little without factoring in the error rates of the labs that produced the results.
He testified after Denver microbiologist John Gerdes, who conceded that two kinds of DNA testing on blood evidence, performed at three separate laboratories, failed to eliminate Simpson as a source of blood at key locations.
But Gerdes held fast to earlier testimony that the sloppiness of police technicians who collected and packaged the blood samples made the results meaningless.
Simpson says he was home alone during the June 12, 1994, knife murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. He claims he is the victim of sloppy police work and an elaborate frame-up.
His efforts to prove that theory got a boost with the ruling on the Fuhrman tapes, which McKinny made while interviewing Los Angeles detectives for a fictional screenplay.
Fuhrman, recently retired from the police force, testified that he had not used the word ``nigger'' to describe blacks in the last 10 years. The defense says the taped interviews are laced with the word and prove Fuhrman lied under oath.
Ito has previously found the tapes to be relevant. The question is whether he will take the next legal step and find them admissible in court.
Legal analysts said the defense has some strong arguments in its favor.
``Because of the constitutional legal principles at stake it would be very, very risky for (Ito) to keep out this kind of biased evidence. He would be risking reversal,'' said Barry Tarlow, a veteran Los Angeles defense attorney.
The prosecution probably will argue that Fuhrman was providing information for a fictional character and not stating his own views. His lawyer has said that distinction is why Fuhrman could say on the stand that he, personally, never used the racial slur.
If Ito does allow the evidence, it remains to be seen how the jury _ even one with nine blacks _ will react to the tapes. The jury already has seen large amounts of physical evidence that had nothing to do with Fuhrman.
``It's still possible that the jury will say after hearing the tapes: `Mark Fuhrman is a racist and I still believe the evidence,''' said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson.