September 26, 1995
Web posted at: 9:40 a.m. EDT
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It was a long trial, and the closing arguments that begin Tuesday won't be brief, either. One year to the day after jury selection began in the O.J. Simpson murder case, Marcia Clark will begin the prosecution's final appeal for conviction, to be followed later in the week by the defense argument for acquittal.
Judge Lance Ito set aside 11-hour court sessions (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT) for the closing arguments so the case can go to the 12 jurors and two remaining alternates as soon as possible. Clark says her presentation could take less than two days. Simpson's defense has not indicated how long its summation might take. If necessary, closing arguments will continue into next week as each side gets to rebut the arguments of the other.
Simpson, a pro football Hall of Famer-turned sportscaster, actor and TV pitchman, has pleaded not guilty to the June 12, 1994, stabbing murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, outside her Los Angeles condominium, two miles from his mansion.
Court was closed Monday for the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, but in preparation for the week ahead, several members of the defense team showed up at the courthouse and lead attorney Johnnie Cochran declared he is "ready" for his summation. With him were fellow defense attorneys Carl Douglas, Barry Scheck and Robert Blasier. The defense jury consultant, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, also attended. She predicted plenty of emotional argument from both sides. "Truly high drama will come out of the next two to three days," she said.
Cochran said Simpson is "cautiously optimistic" about the outcome and eager to get the case over so that he can "get back with his kids." Cochran said the defense team is not worried and he expressed confidence in the jurors. "They've heard the evidence, and after they hear the argument I think the jurors and everyone will understand we shouldn't have been here," he said.
Cochran also downplayed a ruling by Ito that prohibits the defense from showing videotaped excerpts of witness testimony to the jury during closing arguments. "The question is whether or not we'll be able to show videotapes of clips of various things," he said. "We'll deal with it (Tuesday) morning when Judge Ito comes in."
Although reluctant to give much detail, Cochran gave some insight into what he would cover during closing arguments. "This case is about justice or the lack thereof and whether or not justice is alive and well in Los Angeles County," Cochran said. "We're going to talk about that, going to talk about justice in America." Asked if Simpson would participate in any way during closing arguments, Cochran said, "I would just say this, expect the unexpected."
Sources from both the Simpson defense and the prosecution have told CNN that prosecutor Clark probably will handle the entire closing argument, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Earlier it had been speculated that her colleague, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden, might do a portion of the closing arguments.
The 10-woman, two-man jury includes nine blacks, two whites and one Hispanic.
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