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THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER TRIAL

UCLA law professor Peter Arenella and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson offer their take on the Simpson trial. They are joined by Georgetown University Law School professor Paul Rothstein. Today’s topic: The EDTA war and the battle over media leaks drones on, and the tapes war heats up.

PETER ARENELLA

On the defense: “The defense lost its bid to have reporters tell jurors about leaks of incriminating tests from police sources. But Gerald Uelmen’s offer for the relevance of such testimony previewed the defense’s closing argument. He integrated claims of police incompetence, corruption and media manipulation into one overarching theme: Evidence from the LAPD can’t be trusted because their agenda was not to do justice but to repair their own battered image.”

On the prosecution: “It was hard to determine who was grumpier Monday morning--Judge Lance A. Ito, Marcia Clark or Dr. Rieders. As the three quarreled over semantics and the legitimate scope of Clark’s cross, several jurors snoozed. Though Ito may have been responding to the jury’s lack of interest in Clark’s questions, her attempt to show that Rieders made a serious mistake in a prior case did bear on the question of his competency.”

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LAURIE LEVENSON

On the defense: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The defense tried for the Nth time to get news leaks before the jury, but Judge Ito wouldn’t buy it. News leaks are one thing; relevant evidence is another. Meanwhile, Dr. Rieders returned to complete his EDTA testimony. Not only did he refuse to answer questions directly, but his mood ranged from belligerent to confused. The defense shouldn’t hold its breath that Rieders has undercut FBI agent Martz’s testimony.”

On the prosecution: “Clark had to face a tough witness and a tough judge. Although she clearly believes that Rieders has made mistakes before, Ito was less eager to hear about an earlier case than the one before the jury. Rieders didn’t want to budge, but he finally admitted he never did tests on the evidence and couldn’t say for sure whether the blood on the gate and socks contained EDTA. But patience is waning--with the judge, the witnesses and the jurors.”

PAUL ROTHSTEIN

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On the defense: “Rieders raised enough questions to put the EDTA issue in doubt. Uelmen clarified what appeared to be glaring inconsistencies in the defense theory: How could incompetent police conspire so competently and why would they conspire to frame O.J., whom they seemed to love? Uelmen said some LAPD personnel were incompetent, resulting in some false evidence; other evidence is explained in that perhaps one officer could have planted it.”

On the prosecution: “Clark scored points examining Rieders, a defense expert called to establish EDTA in blood on the socks and rear gate. EDTA would suggest that the blood was planted. He was defensive about errors in an earlier case, and strangely didn’t make notes of the evidence of EDTA he purports to see. The prosecutors declined to support Mark Fuhrman’s request for the allegedly racist tapes, suggesting they are distancing themselves from him.”

Compiled by HENRY WEINSTEIN / Los Angeles Times


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