More than 15 months after it began, the drama is over. O.J. Simpson is a free man. And the lawyers whose lives were so consumed by the case must now move on. But to what? What does the future hold for the players in the case, those lawyers whose lives were consumed by the trial?
Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld
Co-directors of the Innocence Project legal clinic at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law in New York, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, two former Bronx Legal Aid lawyers, were the Simpson defense team's DNA specialists. The clinic has compiled a remarkable track record--using genetic testing to exonerate at least eight former inmates in cases across the country. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Scheck and Neufeld are developing a drama series, based on the Innocence Project. The two lawyers once told the Washington Post that they used to write screenplays together; one screenplay, about a public defender in the South Bronx (who reportedly would have been played by Farrah Fawcett), "actually came close to being filmed," the newspaper reported. CBS reportedly wants the drama series for its lineup next year.
The lead prosecutor in the Trial of the Century has signed with the William Morris Agency and plans to write a book, according to Daily Variety, one of the Hollywood trade papers. Hollywood heavyweight Norman Brokaw, chairman and chief executive officer of the Morris agency, will head "a team" of agents pursuing projects for Clark, the paper said. The agency will represent her in "all areas," the paper said, meaning books, movies and TV--but, Brokaw told Variety, pay-per-view television is not an option. Asked by columnist Army Archerd whether she plans to stay with the District Attorney's office, Clark said: "I am at the crossroads in my life and I've made no decision about my future." Also unresolved, Clark told the columnist, is the custody case involving her two children.
Through the trial, Allred, who represents the Brown family, sometimes seemed to be everywhere--popping up in her power suits on nearly every television station, local and national. The trial's over. But Allred still represents the Browns, and still plans to be as visible as ever, on hand for a "new chapter with new problems that may need to be addressed." She declined to say what those "problems" might be, preferring to focus on her relationship with the Browns: "They're clients. But I consider them to be friends as well. I think Denise [Brown] was very kind when she. . .said [on television] that I was a friend. I think of them that way, too. So as a lawyer and a friend, I will continue to assist them wherever i can be of assistance."
"I don't know if I ever want to try another case. I don't know if I ever want to practice law again. It has shaken my faith in a system, a system that I never considered perfect, but one that I felt that, at least in the small number of cases that I've handled, was as close to perfect as possible." That was Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher A. Darden speaking about the Simpson case, and that was in June--four months before the jury returned an acquittal, before Darden broke down in tears at a post-verdict news conference. He spoke then with the knowledge that he had already been named deputy in charge of the district attorney's Inglewood office--a satellite branch that serves a Municipal Court, where the 12 deputy district attorneys file complaints and handle preliminary hearings for felonies that go to trial at the Superior Court in Torrance. The job is still open. Will Darden take it? Top management at the district attorney's office is willing to wait for him, at least for a while--to wait while his hurt heals. "It hurts when you lose," one source said, "especially when you lose on national television." Meanwhile, Darden already has started teaching Criminal Justice 126 to undergraduate students at Cal State Los Angeles, according to school spokesman Dave McNutt.
F. Lee Bailey
With his cross-examination of Mark Fuhrman, one of the defining moments of the Simpson trial, F. Lee Bailey resurrected his reputation as a legal wizard. "I want you to assume that perhaps at some time since 1985 or 1986, you addressed a member of the African-American race as a nigger," Bailey thundered that day in March. "Is it possible that you have forgotten that act on your part?" Fuhrman replied: "No, it's not possible." At the time, the armchair quarterbacks were largely unimpressed; one, Loyola law professor Laurie Levenson, said of Bailey, "If this is his last great cross-examination, this cannot be the way he wanted to go out." But with time--and the unearthing of the so-called Fuhrman tapes--Bailey suddenly appeared once again to be calculating and confident. Levenson told a reporter after the tapes surfaced: "It may have been Bailey at his greatest playing his gut hunch." Concurred author Dominick Dunne, who had a front-row seat in the courtroom: "This is the capper to his career."
Robert L. Shapiro
After trading barbs with his former colleagues on the Simpson defense team, Robert L. Shapiro is headed back to private practice--to an up-and-coming Century City law firm that is known for its expertise in entertainment law. He even gets his name on the shingle: Christensen, White, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser & Shapiro. Among Shapiro's new partners is Kim Glaser, who won an $8.1-million jury verdict in 1993 against actress Kim Basinger (since overturned by an appeals court). "It's time just to do something a little different," Shapiro said on Larry King's CNN show. It's also time, he made plain, to make more money. He said he worked seven days a week for more than 15 months on the Simpson case, took on no other work and "earned less during this period of time than I did in the preceding five years."
Kelli Sager's mentor was one of the best, Los Angeles attorney Rex S. Heinke, widely acknowledged as one of the nation's experts in 1st Amendment work. Now the 35-year-old Sager is recognized as an expert in her own right--having been called time and again to Judge Lance A. Ito's courtroom, and each time persuading the judge to keep the TV cameras on. She finds herself in constant demand by clients who want access to courtrooms. She argued that cameras should be allowed at the murder retrial of the Menendez brothers. And she has a ready answer for those who would contend that TV cameras in Department 103 distorted the process: "I think to the extent that any lessons can come out of a case that was unique in many respects, it is that the public is not only interested in what is happening in court, but it is essential they be able to watch it. Otherwise, there is no understanding of how a verdict is reached."
Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.
In the wake of Simpson's acquittal, the accolades keep pouring in for Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. He is the nation's "most celebrated criminal defense attorney." An "influential African American voice." And, to some, including former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, "a national hero." What does he do for an encore? Cochran's book publishing stock reportedly is worth $1 million or more. Those who have known him for years, however, said he is likely to keep doing what he does best. "I think he just keeps on trying cases," former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown Jr. said after the verdicts. "He just keeps on getting richer and richer and richer." The next big case waiting for Cochran may turn out to be one he filed in the midst of the Simpson trial--a lawsuit brought on behalf of four survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing against a Dallas chemical company that allegedly made the ammonium nitrate fertilizer used in the attack. "We're trying to change the law in this country," Cochran said at an Oklahoma City news conference this summer. "These products should be used for fertilizing crops, not making bombs."