Friday, March 11, 2016

Without a Doubt: Book Review: Marcia Clark and the Trial of the Century

Full Disclosure:


I was 23 years old on the night of June 12, 1994.  Young, impressionable, and always wanting to believe the best in everyone, I fought both myself and everyone else believing OJ had to be innocent for months, until the 9-1-1 call appeared and I could hear the reality of Nicole Brown's life.   I remember turning in, night after night, after night, watching the trial endlessly.  I remember believing it would never end (and really, has it ever?) I remember not understanding domestic violence or why anyone would stay.   I remember conversations about the wonky parking of the Bronco, the (stupid) Bronco chase, and the impossible to believe behavior of the Brown family both before and after Nicole's murder. Then there was Kato, the dog and the house guest.   I remember Ron Goldman's sister Kim, crying at the verdict and feeling terrible for her pain.

Flash forward 21-22 years and we have The People Vs OJ Simpson on FX taking us back in time to the insanity that was the OJ Simpson trial.    I started watching the series fully prepared to switch it off after 10 minutes and found myself transfixed.  I suddenly remembered how much I liked Marcia Clark and Chris Darden and how much I did not like Judge Ito and OJ Simpson.

This brings me to this book; Without A Doubt by Marcia Clark.   To be fair, it isn't a new book.  In fact, I was so worn out hearing about OJ Simpson after the trial and so disheartened by the verdict itself that I had no desire to read any book by anyone associated with the trial.  

More than that, I hold OJ Simpson and Robert Shapiro personally responsible for the Kardashian takeover of America's senses.  Follow me for a moment.   If OJ had not committed a double murder, nobody would have ever heard of Robert Kardashian and if Robert Shapiro had not worked with Kardashian he would not have helped Kim get her 'own shoe line' so in a way, it is OJ Simpson's fault we are stuck with Kim and Kanye.   Thanks a heck of a lot OJ, murder was the worst thing you ever did but you have been punishing America for years.

Okay, the book.   So after not thinking about the whole thing for 20 years or so, the TV show started me remembering the time and I suddenly felt like I needed to read the books by Clark and Darden.   Marcia's book is on Kindle but Chris' isn't so I am going to have to go find a copy somewhere of his to read it.

A few things about this book, which I am not going to even waste posting a summary of, it's about the trial, Marcia Clark, Chris Darden, and how their lives were forever effected by the events of June 12, 1994.

The book is a fascinating look at the personal experience of the lead prosecutor for the City of Los Angeles.  There is some limited personal information about Marcia Clark and the things she experienced before the trial and her personal struggles during the trial.  It is amazing to see not only how much this case effected Clark but also to realize that pretty much nobody that was personally connected to this trial was ever the same.  (Perhaps the exception is that weak, push over of a judge, Lance Ito.)  The book takes you behind the doors of the People's case.  You see why some evidence was left out, some was forced out, and some shouldn't have been allowed into admittance (by the defense) in the first place.   You learn a lot about Clark's feelings leading up to the final summation of the case and you get a little insight into the defense thoughts based on comments they made to Clark.

This book made me wish a couple of things, first that I had gone to law school and second, that I had read this book in 1996 when it came out so I could reasonably still go to law school.  It isn't that Clark makes you feel like the job of a A.D.A. is glamorous, it is simply that, for me, I realized there is nothing I would like to do more than put away criminals who do not deserve to be included in general society.  

I am going to be honest, I loved this book.  My admiration for Marcia Clark is tremendous and her honest recounting of the trial and the realities of trying the case at a difficult time in the history of Los Angeles helps put the case in perspective.  

Overall, I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

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