Interview: Panelists discuss the Simpson civil trial
CNBC, Inc. Burrelle's Information Services
(Copyright (c) 1996 CNBC, Inc. All rights reserved.)
HOST: Geraldo Rivera
GERALDO RIVERA: Hi, everybody. I'm Geraldo Rivera, back from
18-year-old student intern at his civil trial? Those were the two questions being
addressed inside and
outside the courtroom in
the judge's chambers. This incident with the intern stopped this trial cold.
Dennis Fung--you remember him, the pitiful LAPD criminalist whose disastrous
testimony helped doom the prosecution during the criminal trial. Once again he
faced a barrage of questions accusing him and the cops of contamination and
corruption. But Fung's appearance on the witness stand, clearly, after it was
delayed for over an hour by--by the judge, Judge Fujisaki, holding a closed-door
session about this article from USA Today : Court intern, 18, says Simpson
Jane Wells is at the
Jane, did you see USA Today before you got there?
JANE WELLS reporting:
It's right here.
RIVERA: All right. And your reaction when you read it?
WELLS: We're calling it--well, a bit like, `Oh, give me a break,' until it took up
the court's time. We have now dubbed this incident Ambergate. It's not clear that
Amber McGrath ever actually used the word harassment. Harassment is the word
that is used by the reporter in this article. This article landed her and the
attorneys in the judge's chambers this morning. O.J. was not asked in. When it
was over, Amber wasn't seen again--just the sort of thing to spice up a very
boring court day.
She's young, she's beautiful, and she says O.J.'s hitting on her--at least that's what
USA Today reporter Jonathan Lovitt claimed she told him. Lovitt reports that
18-year-old court intern Amber McGrath, blonde, pretty and eerily reminiscent
of Nicole, has been subjected to unwanted advances by O.J. Simpson. It was all
over the paper this morning before O.J. got to court.
Unidentified Man #1: O.J., do you think it's in good taste to hit on court interns.
Mr. O.J. SIMPSON: Oh, boy.
WELLS: The article describes three incidents, which the reporter admits that he
has termed harassment. One, Simpson allegedly asked McGrath out on
Halloween. She turned him down, saying, `Here he is at the trial involving the
death of his ex-wife who he's supposed to be in love with and he's hitting on me.'
Two, when McGrath once bumped into him, Simpson allegedly said, `You can
bump into me anytime you want.' And, three, when McGrath bent over in court,
Simpson allegedly motioned as though he was going to lift her skirt until a
female deputy wagged her finger at him.
Today the deputy denied the story, and Amber isn't talking. While most reporters
say they have seen Simpson look--maybe even leer at the girl, they've seen no
Mr. JONATHAN LOVITT ( USA Today ): I stand by this story. I've checked
Unidentified Woman #1: Did you ask her out?
WELLS: Outside court, Simpson wouldn't say a word, but inside he called the
young woman a liar. Quote, "I can only recall having one conversation with her
on Halloween," when he says she told him she wanted to pursue an acting career.
O.J. Simpson also spoke in this exclusive interview with "Inside Edition"
reporter Star Jones.
Ms. STAR JONES ("Inside Edition" Reporter): Have you ever asked this young
Mr. SIMPSON: Never. As I said, I only--I only had the one--I--I don't ever recall
talking to her, other than she saying hi when I'm with you guys, or all the
WELLS: O.J. Simpson accuses the newspaper reporter of setting a trap by
making suggestive comments about Amber to try and get a reaction.
Ms. LOVITT : I have no comment about that.
WELLS: So this was a story most reporters were willing to chalk up as Mt.
Everest made out of a molehill, until attorneys for both sides shut themselves up
in chambers with the judge for over an hour this morning to discuss the article.
When they came out, nothing was said and testimony resumed. Yes, folks, there
was a trial today, as criminalist Dennis Fung faced cross-examination.
Mr. DENNIS FUNG (Criminalist): Well, it's my job.
WELLS: Well, his job didn't get much easier, answering questions about possible
contamination of evidence, blood swatches with no markings and police reports
written in pencil, but at least this time it only lasted two days, instead of the
nine-day flogging Fung faced last year.
Unidentified Woman #2: How does it feel?
Mr. FUNG: It was a lot shorter.
WELLS: And with testimony so tame these days, reporters have to look
elsewhere for a story.
Now there was word today that Amber's job might be on the line. But last word I
heard, she's expected back at her post tomorrow handing out media passes. Of
course, Geraldo, she really wants to be an actress. Maybe she could play herself
in one of those re-enactments.
RIVERA: Right. Right. You know, I was just thinking, they could ask Dennis
Fung, `Isn't it possible that O.J. Simpson sexually harassed Amber?' And, you
know, Dennis Fung would obviously say, `Yes, it is possible. It's possible that I
did, but I just forgot.'
So did the--the whole Amber situation overshadow what was, in essence, a
sequel to Fung's nine days--obviously, it wasn't nine days. And you had Bob
Blasier doing the cross instead of Barry Scheck, who was so effective. `Don't
you see it now, Mr. Shu--Fung?,' instead of--didn't--in a way, did Blasier try to
mimic Scheck in--in terms of using `Mr. Fung' and--and these pointed, hard
questions that carry an answer implicit in them?
WELLS: Yes. I--I don't know if he was as effective, but there was a lot of this,
`Do you see this, Mr. Fung?' A lot of `Mr. Fung,' boom, boom, boom. And
several of the questions there were objections to. Many of those objections were
sustained. There was some new information, though, that came out that we
haven't heard before. Among it--well, first of all, we heard a lot of the old stuff
before. You know, you mentioned at the top, `Was the evidence moved? The
gloves in different pictures'--yeah, we heard that again. Also, though, for the first
time, Fung talked about presumptive blood tests that he did on evidence in O.J.'s
bathroom--the sink and the shower. He never talked about that in court before.
Those tests showed positive for the presence of blood.
The most interesting thing, I thought, was talking about--for the first time Blasier
up that Nicole's
Rockingham the morning after the murders, therefore, possibly bringing evidence
from Bundy to Rockingham. Fung did say he did see a dog at Rockingham and
there was nobody watching the dog, and as the dog would approach, he would
shoo him away. When this came out, this was kind of a big deal, until on redirect
today, Tom Lambert, Fred Goldman's attorney, said to Mr. Fung--showed him
a--said to Mr. Fung--showed him a picture of Nicole's
the dog?' And Fung said, `No, that wasn't it.' Showed him a picture of O.J.'s
Akita Chachi, who's much darker, looks very different, said, `Was this the dog?'
And Fung said, `Yeah, that's it.' So it kind of stole that thunder.
RIVERA: Like Chris said, `Isn't it possible, Mr. Fung, that the dog brought the
bloody glove over to Rockingham.'
Has--let me just go fr--from the sublime to the ridiculous for--for a second here,
Jane. D--don't get me wrong about--here, but Simpson's a pretty flirty guy. I
mean, he's not the only one. He's not even the--the only one on the show tonight.
But has he ever flirted with you?
WELLS: Oh, no, I n--I never saw any of these incidents that are mentioned in
RIVERA: No, I'm asking about you personally. Did you ever get any vibes from
WELLS: Oh, from O.J.?
WELLS: Being Geraldo Rivera's reporter at the courthouse makes me the last
RIVERA: OK. I guess.
WELLS: I could be the only woman on a deserted island and he would not make
a pass at me.
RIVERA: Yeah. Right. Right. All right, J--Jane, stay there. Don't--don't go
away. I'm going to quickly--Jay, is this, as Jane described, a m--a mountain out
of a moan--molehill?
Mr. JAY MONAHAN (Criminal Defense Attorney): I think, actually, Geraldo,
that it could be trouble for O.J. whether it's true or not. And I seriously question
the--the validity of it. We have an unsequestered jury, and they're going to be
hearing about this. And the--this woman, Amber, has been--well, you know, Rob
was saying earlier, `Why does she have to be named Amber?'
Mr. MONAHAN: I mean, that doesn't help O.J., either.
RIVERA: Forever Amber.
Mr. MONAHAN: But--but the--if--the unsequestered jury starts thinking, `Well,
now O.J.'s hitting on an 18-year-old blonde, she's sort of a Nicole look-alike.
Nicole was only 17 when they started dating. What kind of a man is this?' You
know, there's a lot of speculation that goes into it. But I seriously question--I've
heard so many accounts of what happened or what didn't happen, whether or not
this--this court bailiff, Vicky McKown, actually witnessed the so-called
skirt-lifting mimicking or not. She's apparently denied it.
RIVERA: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Mr. MONAHAN: And I've also heard reports that Jonathan Lovitt himself, the
reporter, may have tried to hit on Ms. Amber McGrath. So who knows what it
means? But I th--still think it could hurt O.J.
Mr. ROBERT DUNN (Criminal Defense Attorney): Well, I--I think that whether
he did it or not is not really the issue. The issue is--is that since you have this
young lady who's working within the court and the judge is trying to keep a lid
on the media input into the case, going to the media as opposed to going to a
court official, the judge or someone else, to address a concern is inappropriate. It
did already cost time down from--from the trial, and I think that her removal was
warranted under those circumstances.
RIVERA: Ooh, it's tough to remove someone who makes an accusation of sexual
Mr. DUNN: Well, I mean, it's not a question of removing her from her job. But
she can be placed in another--within the court system in some other function so
she can still keep working without actually being involved in this particular case.
RIVERA: You know, Jim Moorhead, whenever I was a--a defendant in a civil
case--and--and I have been always successful--I always point that out--they
always told me that I had to be like a priest in there. You know, just--you know,
not even a broad grin, mustache combed, you know, have my--my family
surrounding me. There is enough--it seems that this guy violated one of the most
practical pieces of advice that attorneys give to defendants in any kind of case:
Be purer than the driven snow.
Mr. JAMES MOORHEAD (Civil Litigation Attorney): Well, particularly--I
mean, my major worry wouldn't be, if I were the defense lawyer, about the jury;
it would be about the judge. Because the staff is really the extended family of the
judge. And if you start to hit on one of the extended family and the judge takes it
seriously--and, obviously, he did by holding a hearing for an hour--then you may
have ticked off the judge. And when you come on the stand to testify, he may be
sending vibes to the jury, based on that alone, that he doesn't like you, doesn't
RIVERA: And, Bob Tanenbaum, a kind of tragic or a ...(unintelligible) tragic
Mr. ROBERT TANENBAUM (Criminal Defense Attorney): Oh, definitely. It's
sort of the burlesque end of--of a non-news day in--in court from that point of
view. But the judge should have been able to play this off for the jury and tell
them to--this is the kind of thing that inevitably occurs where you have a circus
atmosphere in a very, very high celebrity case. And that's what he should do with
this jury and not leave this thing dormant, lying out there perhaps in--in some
kind of pregnant fashion that jurors may pick up on and, as was commented by
Jay, suggest that there may be a fatal attraction here for young blonde women
with blue eyes who are 18 years old, in that place against Simpson. So the court,
I think, really has a duty here to--to either conduct a voir dire of this jury to see
who has heard about it, or just to address them generally and say, `Hey, guys,
this has nothing to do with this case. It's an inevitability of what happens when
you have a circus atmosphere.
RIVERA: I--I totally agree. I mean, everybody is reporting this--AP is leading
with the Amber situation. Court TV spent the first 10 minutes of their O--O.J.
show on it, and I can't wait to see the E! TV re-creation of this one.
Jane Wells, quickly. I'm sorry, I'm almost out of time in this segment. I want you
to tell me what's--who's up next.
WELLS: O--OK. But quickly, I just have to say that she never said the word
harassment as far as I know. She may not have approached this reporter about it.
To know this reporter, it may be the sort of thing that he drew out of her. She's
very young, very impressionable. Any attention from O.J. may have freaked her
out--even a smile. So I just want to put that in perspective. Quickly, Richard
Rubin is next on the gloves, and after him comes the guy...
RIVERA: Oh, the glove man. The old glove man...
WELLS: Yep. And then the...
RIVERA: ...who wrote the letter about the celebration party. Yeah.
WELLS: Yeah, and who also measured O.J.'s hands and all that. And then after
him, the guy who took the picture of O.J. allegedly wearing the Bruno Magli
RIVERA: Yes or no, Jane, did they score with Fung today?
WELLS: Oh, I don't know.
RIVERA: Yes or no?
WELLS: He wa--he was--he wasn't as bad as he was in the criminal trial.
RIVERA: OK. OK. I--I...
WELLS: I don't know. Did he win? I--I hate to predict--I hate to predict what the
RIVERA: OK. OK. I'll see you tomorrow.
RIVERA: Amber and Evidence, that's our title, our focus. Back in a flash. Stay
RIVERA: I promise I'm going to spend three, four minutes on this and then that's
it. We have more of the exclusive "Inside Edition" interview that Star Jones
conducted with Mr. Simpson earlier today. Take a look.
(Excerpt from "Inside Edition" interview)
Mr. SIMPSON: She walked by, you know, everybody kind of looked--not
everybody, but, you know, you glance at her because she's kind of giggly when
she goes by. And he looked directly back at me to get a reaction, and I started
laughing and said, `No, no, no, man,' and I walked a--away from him.
RIVERA: I also read a quote in which he said about the bumping, `You can
bump into me anytime you want,' that that is a remark--he's a jokey fellow, and it
is the kind of remark he would typically say. A--and, Bob, you said in the break
that typical jock humor, which, of course, it is, but most jocks tell a joke like that
or whatever the reference is, in the context of, you know, their private life, not in
the context of a wrongful death trial.
Mr. DUNN: Oh, certainly. I mean, I'm sure Simpson's attorneys have counseled
him that conduct that otherwise would be acceptable or understood in the context
of th--of this particular proceeding is not going to be tolerated, and that even if
it's something he might otherwise do, you shouldn't do it here.
RIVERA: Get tape B ready. This is something I--I've agonized over this, and
I--this is "American Journal," another KingWorld production. They have a
videotape shot by--I think a--a limo driver had a video camera. It was on the
floor of the backseat 10 years ago in a limousine. I think it was st--Skip Taft and
O.J. Simpson driving. It is only relevant in the context of what we've been
discussing for the last 10 minutes. Roll it.
(Excerpt from videotape)
Mr. SKIP CROUSE: OK. What do you feel like? A little wine, beer, Pepsi?
Mr. SIMPSON: No, I'm fine. I have not been drinking at all.
Mr. CROUSE: Pepsi?
Mr. SIMPSON: I--I stopped drinking for about--you know what it was? I got so
busy--we even locked the sun out, huh?
Mr. SIMPSON: Yeah, that was a little before my time, but still...
Mr. CROUSE: Well, he--he--he raped (censored).
Mr. SIMPSON: He raped (censored)?
Mr. CROUSE: No, this didn't get out. He was my (censored).
Mr. SIMPSON: Yeah.
Mr. CROUSE: (Censored) He got him off fast.
Mr. SIMPSON: Yeah.
Mr. CROUSE: He didn't really rape her. She was...
Mr. SIMPSON: I know how it is. She don't want to give it up.
Mr. CROUSE: Yeah.
Mr. SIMPSON: Yeah, I raped Nicole.
Mr. CROUSE: Well, he...
Mr. SIMPSON: That's how we ended up getting married.
Mr. CROUSE: This guy...
(End of excerpt)
RIVERA: Skip--who? Skip who?
Unidentified Stagehand: Skip Crouse.
RIVERA: ...Crouse. Sorry. Not Skip Taft, Skip Crouse. Tell me who Skip
Crouse is. Comment, Jay?
Mr. MONAHAN: I don't know what to make out of it. I don't--I mean, you're
saying--you're saying that O.J., 10 years ago, was making some comment to
RIVERA: About how he raped Nicole and then how...
Mr. MONAHAN: ...about he raped--raped Nicole and that's how they got
Mr. MONAHAN: I mean, what--is that a joke? Is that a terrible joke? Is it a
stupid joke? Is it serious? I don't know.
Mr. MONAHAN: I don't know what to make out of it.
RIVERA: Forget it.
Mr. MONAHAN: It's gross.
RIVERA: All right. Let me go now to the--the evidence. Dr. Richard Saferstein.
Let me introduce my panel. I don't--you know, I--I assume everybody knows
everybody, but--I mean, you do with these guys, but Jay Monahan--you know
Jay--criminal defense attorney, CS--NBC, whatever you call it.
Mr. MONAHAN: Alphabet soup.
RIVERA: Alphabet soup. You know Robert Dunn, criminal defense attorney.
Mr. DUNN: That's not Robert Dunn.
RIVERA: No, that's not.
Mr. DUNN: I know Robert Dunn and that's not Robert Dunn.
RIVERA: I know Robert...
Mr. MONAHAN: If you were Robert Dunn--Richard should know Robert Dunn.
RIVERA: Richard Saferstein, served as chief forensic scientist for the state of
Washington, civil litigation attorney Jim Moorhead, the former assistant US
Welcome back, Jim. I haven't seen you in a while. And in
criminal defense attorney and author Robert Tanenbaum, the man who took my
to the position of chief of the felony trial bureau there. I never went past the
intern. Bob is also a politician and an author. His latest book is "Falsely
What do you think of--let me start with you, Bob. You know, Fung is back.
He--it was a debacle the last time. I mean, Scheck practically testified for him.
By all accounts, Blasier tried the same tactic. Fung seemed better prepared. How
does that make the LA DA's office look? I guess that's the first question.
Secondly, do these discrepancies--the gloves apparently are in different positions
in various photos--carrying the blood sample in the trash bag--all of these things.
How do you think they play second time around?
Mr. TANENBAUM: Well, of course, you know that going to school the first
time could help just so much. You're stuck with what the record is. Barry Scheck
did a great job because, in fact, he did what the DA should have done in the
case. He took Fung through his paces. That--and what did the DAs not do, in
essence, that Scheck did. And that is to say--remember, Fung is the guy in the
grand jury who said--when asked the question, `Did you collect all the evidence?'
he said yes. And the fact is he didn't. Now what does that tell you? It tells you
the DAs didn't prepare this case. When you have someone like Dennis Fung,
who's a criminalist, he collects evidence, you go to the scene...
RIVERA: Tape C.
Mr. TANENBAUM: ...you--you pick up all the evidence with him, `Where was
it?' You go to diagrams in your office. So that what Scheck did, in essence, was
what good DAs do to prepare the witness. And you have all the notes that he
made and you have all the evidence present, all the locations marked. Now in
this particular case, he falls basically into the same kind of trap, doesn't he? One
the wire near the air conditioner, he testifies on direct that it was blood. And then
Blasier says, `It was never confirmed to be blood, was it, Mr. Fung?' And he
says no. So we're still stuck with the same kind of shabby evidence. And
moreover, what kind of securing of crime scene suggests to individuals that you
have a dog around? And someone is saying, like Fung, `But when he came close
to us, we would shoo him away.' What were the detectives doing there? What
were the uniform officers doing trying to secure a crime scene? That's--that's
about Crime Scene 101 if you know what you're doing as a DA and a cop.
RIVERA: Roll tape C and then go to commercial and then I'll ask Dr. Saferstein
about some of this stuff. Go.
(Excerpt from footage dated April 11, 1995)
Mr. BARRY SCHECK (Simpson Attorney): Mr. Fung, isn't it your responsibility
to investigate whether evidence at the crime scene has been moved or altered
from its original position?
Mr. FUNG: In some respects, it is my responsibility. Yes.
Mr. SCHECK: All right. And you're supposed to make inquiries of people at the
scene as to whether or not evidence has been moved or altered?
Mr. FUNG: Yes.
Mr. SCHECK: Is it your testimony, sir, that on June 13th you did not suspect
that the glove or the envelope or any other evidence in that area had been moved
from their original position?
Unidentified Man #2: Objection, Your Honor.
Judge LANCE ITO: Overruled.
Mr. FUNG: I did not suspect that they were moved.
(End of excerpt)
(Excerpt from footage dated April 11, 1995)
Mr. SCHECK: Are you familiar with a book--it's called "Criminalistics, an
Introduction to Forensic Science" by Richard Saferstein?
Mr. FUNG: I am familiar with one of the editions, yes.
Mr. SCHECK: All right. And this is a book that, I take it, you studied when--in
Mr. FUNG: Yes.
Mr. SCHECK: Doesn't Saferstein say that the packaging of blood evidence in a
plastic or air-tight containers must be avoided because the accumulation of
residual moisture could contribute to the growth of blood-destroying bacteria and
`Preferably each stained article should be packaged separately in a paper bag or
Mr. FUNG: That's what the book says.
Mr. SCHECK: Now do you agree with that, sir?
Mr. FUNG: I--I agree with that in the regard if--for final packaging. In the
intermediate stage, I do not agree with that.
(End of excerpt)
RIVERA: You said at the time you--you were misquoted, misused.
Dr. RICHARD SAFERSTEIN (PhD, Forensic Scientist): Oh, I think it was
misused somewhat. It wa--but he--it was--it was part--partly--some part truth to
it. But, Geraldo, knowing what we know today, that really didn't amount to a hill
of beans from the science point--scientific point of view.
RIVERA: OK. Let me ask you, of what amounts--wel--hill--back to the hill of
beans metaphor. Fung--shown photos, evidence moved, some--you know,
obviously it--it's not a frozen portrait there. It's a crime scene. What overview,
Doctor, is your impression of the quality of this evidence, given the--the
discrepancies pointed out with Fung's testimony today as it was a year ago?
Dr. SAFERSTEIN: Well, Geraldo, this case is--is moving k--along real quick,
and it--it's what should be happening. The plaintiff has to get all this evidence in,
bring it before the jury real quick. They want to give that jury a good overview
of all the evidence.
RIVERA: But scientifically, what is--what is the implication of the gloves being
moved, for example?
Dr. SAFERSTEIN: Well, Geraldo, what's--what's the main evidence in this case?
DNA blood--DNA-containing blood stains, hairs on the hat, a fiber from O.J.'s
Bronco found at the crime scene and footprints at the crime scene. All of these
evidence implicate--all of these items have implicated O.J. None of these items
would have been of effective from the scientific point of view by any of the
testimony that was presented yesterday or today by Fung.
Dr. SAFERSTEIN: Now--and--and--and, Geraldo, no crime scene is--is--is pure.
I mean, there's always movement, there's always missteps, and you have to
expect these things. And--but there was nothing that has occurred so far, in my
opinion, that would up--upset the scientific integrity of the evidence that
was--eventually was examined.
RIVERA: Jim Moorhead, is it a question of scientific certainty, reliability, or is it
really a question of pointing out discrepancies and making little cracks in the
wall the plaintiff is trying to build?
Mr. MOORHEAD: You know, I think they're trying to make little cracks. I
mean, the real problem is, they're trying to paint this picture of police corruption
and bungling. And the biggest problem I think they're having in the courtroom is
Mr. MOORHEAD: He's a--a real party pooper here, because he keeps knocking
the paint cans out of their hands or knocking the brushes out of their hands. So
they never get a chance to really paint this full portrait that they want to paint.
And he's telling them, `You'll get a chance to do that in your own case, putting
on your own defense.' But I think that really could be too late for them at that
point. The other evidence could be too strong.
RIVERA: It's very disjoint--you mean go back to Fung later on in--in the defense
case a month or two from now?
Mr. MOORHEAD: I don't think they'll go back to Fung, but they may go back to
Vannatter, for example.
RIVERA: OK. OK.
Mr. MOORHEAD: They may want to talk to him about the search warrant he
RIVERA: S--I'm--I'm sorry, Jim. I've got to take a break.
Mr. MOORHEAD: OK.
RIVERA: Let me do that. I'll be right back. Amber and Evidence.
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