On Thursday at a Pace Law School forum, O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden reportedly alleged, “‘I think Johnnie [Cochran] tore the lining,’” referring to the glove that prompted Cochran’s famous summation line, “If it doesn’t fit, you must aquit.” When commenting further on Friday, Darden reportedly said, “‘A bailiff told me me the defense had it during the lunch hour ... It’s been my suspicion for a long time that the lining has been manipulated.’” Reuters article here. Additional reporting from the Los Angeles Times here and here, and from Slate here.
A pretty powerful charge for Darden to raise only now, almost 17 years after the verdict and several years after Cochran’s death. Darden may be walking in between some ethical lines of his own. If Darden had a sound, evidence-based belief that Cochran intentionally manipulated evidence during the O.J. trial, Darden arguably had a duty to report this misconduct—a point the Reuters article notes Alan Dershowitz raised in response to Darden’s allegation. See Model Rules 3.4(b) & 8.3(a); see also CA RPC 5-200. On the other hand, if Darden had no good faith basis for accusing another attorney of such serious misconduct, Darden could have engaged in his own misconduct. Cf. e.g., Model Rule 8.4(c). From these new reports, Darden seems to be saying instead, “I know of enough evidence to assert this suspicion publicly and in good faith, but not so much evidence that I needed to do anything about it for the last 17 years.” A delicate balance that may warrant some tough questions.
If Darden did suspect this fact since the trial, why would he assert it just now at this particular Pace forum? Darden did reportedly claim that he had voiced similar concerns in the past. But according to Reuters, Darden could not recall any details, and even the lawyer for Nicole Brown Simpson’s estate in the civil lawsuit never had heard the allegation before now. More reporting to follow, I assume.