LOS ANGELES Christopher Darden, the criminal lawyer who retreated from public life after O.J. Simpson’s acquittal, says people are still coming forward about the 21-year-old case including a woman who called him just last week to say she saw something that might’ve tipped the scales toward conviction.
Darden has given precious few interviews in the past 20 years, but appeared Monday on The Adam Carolla Show in no small part because Carolla’s podcast regularly features their mutual friend, prominent Los Angeles defense attorney Mark Geragos, who also joined the podcast.
And whereas Darden is usually very guarded, he opened up for Carolla, telling the comedian that the Simpson case severely dented his rising legal career; that the prosecution suffered mightily from the “speedy trial”; and that they had all kinds of crazy ideas about how to deal with those ill-fitting gloves.
But the most intriguing of Darden’s revelations was that potential witnesses have been coming out of the woodwork in the years since.
“After the trial and after he was acquitted, some people developed a conscience,” Darden said. “And people began to come forward. I got a phone call not a week ago from a woman who told me that the night of the murders, she saw O.J. Simpson on Bundy [the street where Nicole Brown lived].”
Trial witnesses testified to seeing a white Bronco at the Brown residence that night, and hearing a man’s voice, but no eyewitness had emerged to place Simpson who had said he was on his way to the airport at the scene of the murders.
Darden said the woman told him she saw the former football superstar walk right in front of her car. “She was near Nicole’s place. And she saw him, recognized him as O.J. Simpson, went on about her business, and as the trial went on, she just decided to not get involved.”
He said he believed the woman, like many others with potential key evidence or testimony, figured there was plenty enough evidence for a conviction already in hand.
Speed kills: Why the case was lost
Darden said if the district attorney’s office had taken its time filing the criminal case which would’ve allowed them to pull together all the forensic evidence O.J. Simpson’s legal team would’ve been in trouble. But the defense pounced, declining to ask for more time.
Darden, brought aboard late to help litigate the case after it was filed, saw that as a key mistake.
“The entire time the prosecution was backpedaling because they filed the case too quickly,” he said. “Didn’t have all the forensic evidence in. All the DNA analysis. You didn’t have all that time it takes to look for those Bruno Maglis [Simpson’s shoes that were crucial to winning the civil case] … instead they quickly filed the case. And that’s the best thing that [could’ve happened for the defense].”
But the gloves did fit
At one point, Carolla asked Darden about what must be his least-favorite topic the gloves, which O.J. theatrically slipped on in court over latex gloves. Carolla asked why they didn’t just pick up a brand-new pair of the same gloves to make Simpson try on … without the latex underneath.
“And that is yet another of the thousands and thousands of glove theories that I’ve heard,” Darden said. “We did all kinds of things, you know. We measured O.J.’s hands, we measured photographs of his hands and compared it to the gloves, ‘Would it fit?,’ you know … we all thought it would. We thought about having D.A. investigators with hands that were even larger than O.J.’s try on the glove … the bottom line is, we had pictures of O.J. standing on the sidelines at NFL games wearing the gloves.”
Nevertheless, the “gloves” moment was presented in both The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story and the trailing 30-for-30 documentary on ESPN as a turning point in the trial. Darden was depicted as going against Marcia Clark’s wishes by asking Simpson to try the gloves, a decision that appeared to sink the case.
Speaking of which, what did Darden think of his depiction in the miniseries and longform documentary?
“I would not know. [,” said Darden, chuckling. “I heard that it was great for them. Not so great for me, but great for them.”
Benching the ‘Supreme Court Justice Darden’ dream
With a resolute matter-of-factness, Darden said his involvement in the case ended his ascent in the legal world, where he was tracking for the judiciary: “I would probably be sitting on the court of appeals somewhere, or maybe be the district attorney for the county of Los Angeles,” he said.
“It interrupted my career. Totally derailed my career. And, you know, I have some notoriety but I’m not rich. Who the hell wants to be known and be broke at the same time? Bro, that sucks! Sucks.”
Geragos corroborated Darden’s self-assessment, calling him one of California’s top five lawyers and suggesting that he would’ve been a legitimate candidate for the Supreme Court.
“Hmm, Supreme Court,” Darden purred in response. “‘Justice Darden.’ I’d be on the $20 bill!”
“That’s why it bugs the hell out of me when people define Chris Darden with O.J.,” Geragos said. “Because that’s one case out of almost four decades of work.”
All that said, Darden is doing fine in his private practice at Darden & Associates, Inc.
When Carolla asked if he could plug the lawfirm by giving out the website, Darden demurred:
“I don’t know,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t really need any more business right now.”