Christopher A. Darden, who unsuccessfully prosecuted O.J. Simpson for murder, said Tuesday that he will write a book about his experiences during the trial and may never return to work in the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
“I always felt that I owed a debt and I think I’ve paid that debt,” Darden, one of the lead Simpson prosecutors, said of his tenure as a deputy district attorney. “That isn’t to say I don’t feel a great sense of obligation to the office and my community, but 15 years is a long time.”
Of the trial’s outcome, he said:
“I sleep well knowing that we did what we were legally and morally compelled to do. I have no regrets. Things happen in trials. That is the nature of the beast called justice.”
In addition to working on the book, Darden said he wants to “spend lots of time with my family, the people who stood by me” and take off some weight--"I’m going to lose this tire I picked up during trial.”
Darden, architect of the now-infamous courtroom glove demonstration, was a controversial figure throughout the case, drawing high marks for his eloquence during closing arguments but criticism for the sniping that he and his opponent Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. engaged in during the long trial.
Speaking publicly for the first time since an emotional, post-verdict news conference, Darden seemed upbeat and relaxed as he disclosed that he had signed an agreement with the high-powered William Morris Agency. The agency said in a news release that it will “advise Mr. Darden in the literary, lecture, motion picture and television arenas.”
The agreement was personally brokered by Norman Brokaw, chairman and chief executive officer of the talent agency, who last week signed Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Clark, one of Darden’s co-lead prosecutors in the Simpson case, Brokaw said during a conference call with Darden.
Clark has not spoken in detail about her future, including what projects she may tackle under the agency’s guidance.
Brokaw said he personally will manage the careers of both prosecutors.
“I’m eager to open the door between Chris and the world that is waiting to hear his insightful take on the events of the last year,” Brokaw said. “He has an incredible tale.”
No co-author for Darden’s book has been chosen, Brokaw said, and no focus has been decided.
Darden said he wants to use the book to discuss the larger issues that the Simpson trial brought to the surface, and may embark on a series of lectures. Darden now teaches a criminal justice class at Cal State Los Angeles.
He said he has not monitored the sometimes rancorous debate about race that has raged throughout the country in the week after the verdict, but hopes to have something useful to say on the subject.
“There is clearly more to be learned from what we’ve experienced, and surely something to be said about how we heal from it and go on,” Darden said.
Darden, who is taking an unspecified amount of time off after the grueling Simpson trial, has been offered his self-described “dream-come-true” job as head of the district attorney’s field office in Inglewood, if he decides to return to work as a prosecutor.
He said Tuesday that he might leave the district attorney’s office altogether because he does not believe it would be fair to ask his boss, Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti, to leave the Inglewood job unfilled for months more.
Darden has said repeatedly that the Simpson case caused him to lose faith in the judicial system and robbed him of his ardor for trial work.
He noted that he had been a prosecutor for 15 years, is one year shy of his 40th birthday and tired of “arguing and being insulted” and “insulting other people” in sometimes contentious legal battles.
During the Simpson trial, he and Cochran clashed often in vitriolic and sometimes personal exchanges, particularly on issues of race.
Cochran and others have criticized Darden, who is black, for being part of a prosecution team that for a time defended the reputation of Mark Fuhrman, the white LAPD detective later exposed as a racist. Prosecutors ultimately repudiated Fuhrman, and Darden maintained that the former detective’s racism did not erase all the evidence against Simpson, who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman.
Yet criticism continued, and friends say suggestions that Darden was in some way an apologist for Fuhrman have deeply hurt the prosecutor.
Many people have come to Darden’s defense, including Reginald Holmes, former president of the Langston Bar Assn., who said it was unfair to criticize him for doing his job.
There was no immediate estimate on how much a book contract would net Darden, who is not alone in turning to the publishing world. Two former jurors already have published books about the case and at least one more is said to be preparing one. Simpson has written a best-selling volume and so has Faye Resnick, a friend of Nicole Simpson’s.
Some already are expressing concerns about principals in the case making money off the trial that grew out of a brutal double murder.
Darden’s venture was not immune to such criticism.
“I’m not surprised, but I am a little disappointed,” Holmes said. “The general disappointment is that everybody from the defendant, the jurors, the prosecutors to the judge no doubt, eventually, are turning this into the new California Gold Rush.”
Darden, Holmes suggested, “could make a more meaningful statement by staying at the prosecutors’ office and standing up for honor and integrity” in a system that needs black prosecutors as much as it needs black defense lawyers.
Hayley Sumner, a spokeswoman for William Morris, said charges of exploitation of the Simpson case by trial participants are always a concern, but added, “That is not the case with this.”
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