Marcia Clark's private trial is slow in unfolding
Jonathan T. Lovitt ; Richard Price
LOS ANGELES - Judge Lance Ito may hold the more grueling courtroom
assignment, but at least one other jurist here is feeling the pressure of the O.J.
Superior Court Commissioner Keith Clemens is deeply troubled in his role as
arbiter of a child custody battle between Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark and
her estranged husband, Gordon Clark, according to tapes of a conference with
-- On one side, Clemens has Marcia Clark fighting to keep the story out of the
media. Delaying the battle is her only way of doing that since a judge refused in
March to seal records. The ruling touched off stories on intimate details of the
-- On the other side, Clemens has Gordon Clark demanding a speedy decision.
Clark is furious over the commissioner's failure to schedule a hearing despite a
half-dozen requests since he filed Feb. 27 for custody of their children, ages 2
1/2 and 5. Marcia Clark filed for divorce June 9.
The delay is unusual. Even Clemens' clerk, Virginia Hirano, says custody
hearings usually "have priority. This one is dragging." Clemens will not discuss
"It's fairly clear that if this were just another case, the judge would be moving a
little faster," says lawyer William Johnson.
The tapes of an April 26 conference show Clemens worries that "whatever is
placed in the court file you can expect to read about at Ralph's (supermarket)
while you're waiting to check out."
Gordon Clark claims his two boys "are starved for attention" and spend all their
time with baby sitters.
Marcia Clark has implied in court papers that she could offer specific allegations
against her husband in his treatment of the children, including medical issues.
Each denies the others' charges.
Clemens fears the case will explode if he allows a hearing.
Gordon Clark argues his wife's fame shouldn't obstruct his right to a hearing.
Noting she's delayed two scheduled depositions, he calls it a stall and charges
she's using her influence to create the delay.
"It's our view (Marcia) will delay this forever," says Gordon Clark's lawyer,
Says Marcia Clark's lawyer, Judith Forman: Her "only concern is for the welfare
of her children. She has never thought it would be in the best interest of the
children to discuss any facts of this case in the media."