Judge Lance Ito Monday scolded O.J. Simpson’s lawyers for providing him with “incoherent” paperwork on transcripts of the taped interviews with Detective Mark Fuhrman that the defense wants to admit into evidence.
In a stinging rebuke of the attorneys, Ito said he had spent hours trying to match quotes on the tapes to the transcripts, only to find that the two did not correlate. He said he would give the matter no further consideration until the confusion was corrected.
“Given the fact that there are more than a dozen attorneys working for the defense, it is not too much to ask that there be some basic correlation between the … purported transcript and the audiotapes,” Ito wrote in an order issued Monday. “The (offer of proof) is incoherent.”
Lead defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who was out of town last weekend, apologized and said Ito had inadvertently been given the wrong transcript. He promised that the proper materials would be submitted today.
The defense offered the tapes and transcripts as evidence that Fuhrman used a particular racial epithet at least 30 times on the tapes - although he denied under oath using the word in the last decade - and gave 18 examples of police misconduct. Simpson’s lawyers believe the taped interviews with aspiring screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny support their allegations that Fuhrman is a racist cop who planted the bloody glove he testified he found on Simpson’s estate.
Fuhrman has been portrayed by the prosecution as a competent police officer victimized by a defense smear campaign designed to shift the focus of the trial away from Simpson and the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Fuhrman has said through a spokesman that he did not recall the tapes when he testified and that his comments did not represent his views.
In his order Monday, Ito said he began reviewing the transcripts, but quit after going through five examples of Fuhrman using the racial slur and five incidents of misconduct because the numbering system for the taped quotes did not correspond to the pages cited in the transcript.
In several examples, Fuhrman is heard making slurs against women, blacks and Mexicans. At one point he refers to a now-retired police supervisor, saying he “should be shot.”
Ito is expected to decide this week which, if any, of the excerpts can be heard by the jury.