Prosecutor pays price // O.J. scrutiny adds to stress of her divorce

  Richard Price; Jonathan T. Lovitt


  USA Today


  Page 01A

  (Copyright 1995)


  LOS ANGELES - From the start, it was clear the role of World's Most Famous

  Female Prosecutor carried an enormous price, especially for a woman who

  values privacy as much as Marcia Clark.


  There were the comments about her hair, her short skirts, her tough style. Sharp

  rebukes from the judge. Grueling 16-hour work days. The unrelenting glare of a

  TV camera beaming close-up images around the world.


  For Clark, all that and more surround her job as chief prosecutor in the O.J.

  Simpson double-murder case - the biggest professional battle of her life.


  But even as she argues fine points of the law against some of the best defense

  attorneys in the nation, Clark is also in the midst of a more personal battle - a

  divorce from her husband of 13 years, Gordon Clark, and a fight for custody of

  their boys, ages 3 and 5.


  If Marcia Clark were just another lawyer, the divorce would be the same

  '90s-style split showing up in courthouses across the USA: two-job couples

  trying to divide the spoils of a marriage torn apart by the demands of their



  But Clark is a star, the headliner in what many consider the biggest legal

  showdown of the century. So her divorce trial - she first filed June 9, just three

  days before the murders - is very public, and her two trials enmeshed.


  Last week, Simpson's defense lawyers accused Clark of fabricating child-care

  problems to delay a session the defense said she wasn't ready to handle. And in

  papers filed in a courthouse across the street Feb. 24, Gordon Clark accused her

  of putting the Simpson trial ahead of her children.


  He characterized her as a tyrant and a neglectful mother whose sons are "starved

  for attention" with "cuts and bruises, more than one would expect, even for two

  energetic boys."


  Gordon Clark's words were taken from his response to his wife's request for an

  increase in monthly support payments.


  In court papers she filed in December, she says she is struggling financially.

  Overloaded by debt that includes credit card debts of $23,500 and a $14,000

  dental bill, she says her wardrobe demands have soared because of the Simpson

  case, and her baby-sitting bills have risen to $945 a month, plus another $625 in

  nursery-school expenses.


  As a result, Marcia Clark - who earns $96,829 a year as a prosecutor - wants an

  increase in the $650-a-month child support payments from her husband. He's a

  36-year-old computer engineer at Soligen Inc., who reports his income as



  Beyond the emotional pain of the split comes painful publicity spawned by the

  O.J. trial media machine: Tabloid stories have reduced her to tears, and she has

  yet to grant a one-on-one interview. She fought to seal her divorce papers,

  complaining about "constant scrutiny and public display."


  "I can't imagine the pressure she must be experiencing," says former federal

  prosecutor Laurie Levenson. "Dealing with this case and trying to fulfill her role

  as a mother at the same time. . . . It's beyond comprehension."


  Occasionally, it takes a toll. During one courtroom battle, a pale Clark offered

  Judge Lance Ito an apology, explaining that she'd had little sleep because one of

  her boys had been ill the previous night. "When they're up, you're up," she said.


  But many analysts said the exchange left her open to criticisms. Then came

  Cochran's accusation that she lied about leaving court last Friday evening to take

  care of her children.


  Stung, she said she was "offended as a woman, as a single parent, as a prosecutor

  and as an officer of the court." As it turned out, Clark had warned Ito earlier she

  couldn't stay late, apparently bearing out her version.


  The exchange has generated new support for the 41-year-old prosecutor. District

  Attorney Gil Garcetti lashed out Thursday, blasting the media for printing the

  details of her divorce.


  "Is that fair to Marcia Clark?" he demanded, calling the publicity "a horrible

  situation. . . . It's very hurtful."


  Clark's personal lawyers declined to comment, but leading divorce lawyer

  William Johnson offers the reminder that bitter custody battles produce

  "exaggerated" allegations.


  "The lawyers take basic information from the client and create these little literary

  masterpieces. Although they may contain a kernel of truth, they are certainly not

  the gospel."


  Gordon Clark's lawyer, Edward Blau, says his client is "interested only in what's

  best for the children." But his client's declarations in the divorce papers

  sometimes ring bitter.


  Gordon Clark says he was shocked when his wife announced on Christmas Day

  1993 he was "not intellectually stimulating enough for her." Now, he says, she

  wants to "control me and hurt me in an obsessive way."


  He also says she "tricked" him into leaving home and family, and that she "may

  have been involved with another man even while we were together," but offers

  no proof. The charge could be gratuitous; under California's no-fault law,

  infidelity is immaterial unless it has a direct impact on children.


  He uses the Simpson case as a weapon, charging that Clark never sees her kids

  more than an hour a day. "There is absolutely no reason why the children should

  not be with me instead of continually being with baby-sitters," he says. His

  visitation rights are two evenings a week and every other weekend.


  Divorce lawyer Johnson's characterization of Gordon Clark's charges: "It smacks

  of hitting somebody when they're down. Here's this woman. . . . prosecuting

  arguably the trial of the century. What's she supposed to do? Is she supposed to

  give it half an effort?"


  Marcia Clark argues she needs more money from her husband because the

  Simpson case has cost her so much: she says she spent $1,500 on five new suits

  and shoes.


  Response from her husband: Marcia has money in a 401K plan (she recently

  withdrew $26,000 for dental work) and future wealth guaranteed by her fame -

  while he's flat broke.


  Furthermore, he contends, "I do not think because the Simpson trial has become

  a Hollywood production that (Marcia) needs to become a Hollywood personality

  herself and that I should pay for her makeovers."


  Whether he wins or not, Gordon Clark clearly has hurt his wife with the

  publicity. But for Marcia Clark, the real threat lies ahead - next Tuesday's

  hearing for custody of her boys.


  Her position is clear: "I am devoted to my two children, who are far and away

  more important to me than anything," she said in a statement released this week.


  More than a few professional women will be rooting for her.


  "I see this as a feminist issue," says family lawyer Heidi Tuffia. "She's the most

  prominent female attorney in the country today, and here comes her husband

  trying to take her children. It's what we as women have always feared. If you

  become successful and outspoken, you'll lose your kids."


  CLARK DIVORCE CASE EXCERPTS Marcia Clark's petition -- "I now must

  have babysitters for the weekends while I work and someone to spend the

  evenings with my two children. This costs an additional $200 a month . . . I have

  to pay teachers to pick up my children after school. . . . These cost . . . $150 per

  month." -- "Because of the notoriety of the trial with press and television

  coverage, I have purchased five suits and shoes at a cost of $1,500. I am under

  constant scrutiny. . . . It has been necessary for me to have my hair styled as

  needed and to spend more money on my personal care and grooming. As I am a

  county employee, none of these expenses are reimbursed."


  Gordon Clark's response -- "For 13 years, until Christmas Day in 1993, I thought

  I had a terrific romance with Marcia, the petitioner. . . . Petitioner informed me

  that I was not intellectually stimulating enough for her and indicated she did not

  have much interest in continuing our marriage." -- "While I commend petitioner's

  brilliance, her legal ability and her tremendous competence as an attorney, I do

  not want our children to continue to suffer because she is never home." -- "I

  firmly believe that there are three reasons the petitioner does not want the

  children to stay with me . . . She wants to control them and hurt me in an

  obsessive way. She also knows that it is more economically beneficial (to her)

  for me to keep the current (visitation) schedule. Finally, she hopes that if the

  children see little of me, they will forget me." -- "I have been an equal primary

  caretaker for our children since their births." -- "I do not think that because the

  Simpson trial has become a Hollywood production that petitioner . . . needs to

  became a "Hollywood personality" and that I should pay for her makeovers." --

  "My financial situation is bleak, at best, and I am operating at a deficit every


  PHOTO,color,Reed Saxon,AP; PHOTO,color,Blake Sell,AP