September 1, 1995 -- 12:00 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Anne McDermott
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Judge Lance Ito ruled on Thursday that only two references to the word "nigger" would be played to the jury in the O.J. Simpson trial. The racist slur was used 41 times by key prosecution witness and retired police Detective Mark Fuhrman. (aiff sound file excerpts from the Fuhrman tapes: 111k, 129k)
The judge, in what was seen as a major blow to the Simpson defense team, also ruled the jury would not hear any of the 18 excerpts from the tapes in which Fuhrman talked about planting evidence, beating suspects and committing perjury.
Simpson defense attorney Johnnie Cochran let his feelings be known about Ito's decision. "This is an affront to jurors everywhere, particularly this jury. Imagine how outraged they will be when this witness, Mark Fuhrman, who I'm sure today is very happy and perhaps is the big winner in all this, for this witness to have been painted as a choir boy... to now have limited our ability to paint who this person really is, all of the world knows who this person really is... but now our jury won't. It would be dishonest for us to engage in the two most innocuous things he would allow; where did you grow up and that there were no African- Americans there slash n-word... the most innocuous areas and he leaves everything else out. That is misleading this jury. It's dishonest and we don't want any part of that. It is absolutely outrageous for us to have to endure this at this point. O.J. Simpson is a man who has been wrongfully accused and we think, framed. And the cover-up continues. We think the defense is winning this case."
Cochran went on to say that although he thinks the world is outraged as well, he urged the Los Angeles community to remain calm throughout the remainder of the trial. He also said that the defense team is determined to fight their biggest battles in the courtroom.
The Goldman family, on the other hand, is satisfied with Judge Lance Ito's decision. The family held a press conference in Los Angeles at 11:30 p.m. EDT. Ron Goldman's father, Fred, said he was glad that the trial was now back on track. "We've been worried for the past few days that this trial would literally go off track and end up completely different. And we hope that this is an indication that this trial will be back on track and that the only issue to be considered will be the murder of Ron and Nicole and a verdict, hopefully, that is proper. We want to thank the judge for his time and effort."
Kim Goldman said that she believes the defense team had an agenda in allowing the tapes to be played. "We were all very shocked at the press conference that the defense held. It's a little upsetting and I don't want to misquote him but he comments something about how angry they were and... how this was the most cruelest, unfair ruling in the history of the country... I think that was a little broad. If it was an issue of perjury then they should be satisfied with the ruling that they received. They were allowed two excerpts and that was to say the n-word. If that's really what they wanted then they should be satisfied. The fact that they were so upset supports our feeling that there was a hidden agenda."
Earlier Thursday, as Judge Lance Ito was making his decisions regarding the tapes, reaction to them was still causing quite a stir.
The tapes may not be heard in their entirety in court, but one thing is certain, they have cost Mark Fuhrman an attorney.
As Judge Lance Ito was making his decisions regarding the tapes, reaction to the tapes has caused quite a rumble.
It's not clear yet whether the incendiary words of Mark Fuhrman will blow the trial of O.J. Simpson wide open but it has already angered the community in Los Angeles. And it has cost the former detective an attorney.
Robert Tourtelot had been representing Fuhrman on civil matters for the last year but cut him loose Wednesday for what he called personal and obvious reasons. "I was profoundly disgusted and horrified by the contents of Mr. Fuhrman's taped conversations, as I listened along with the rest of the World last Tuesday," Tourtelot says.
Simpson attorney Barry Scheck says that it's no real surprise. "I'm sure he's not the first attorney that's had a client lie to him." But Tourtelot's statement also said: "Mark Fuhrman did not plant any evidence as alleged in this case by the defense."
Meanwhile, the ACLU is going after the Fuhrman tapes. They want them made public and so do a lot of citizens. "It should be exposed," one woman says. "There's a problem with the LAPD, it's not just with Mark Furhman." Another says, "It think he's one of many." And yet another opinion reinforces the last, "Personally, I think it's been going on for a while and it's not gonna change."
Police Chief Willie Williams thinks things can change and are changing. He spoke about that at a graduation ceremony for new Los Angeles police officers. The chief does have some support. "I do have a lot of friends that are police officers and have always had good relations with them, and other officers have told me they repudiate his (Fuhrman's) remarks as well," a man says.
But many are left wondering about Mark Fuhrman. A spokesman for the ACLU calls Fuhrman an equal opportunity bigot. Douglas Mirell says, "It's very difficult to get inside the brain of Mark Fuhrman, and I don't pretend to be able to do that."
A Los Angeles city councilman thinks he knows what should be done. "In my view, Mark Fuhrman types (are) like a Nazi, if you were in the German army during the war, he would have been tried at Nuremberg and he should be tried here," says Councilman Nate Holden. (92k aiff sound file)
A lot of people want to hear from Mark Fuhrman and the defense plans to call him to the witness stand if any of the tapes are admitted. Whether Fuhrman will provide any answers or, instead, take the Fifth, at this point is by no means clear.
Now that only small portions of the tapes will be used, it is not clear if Mark Fuhrman will ever appear in the Simpson court room again. And if he is called, will he take the Fifth?
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