So far March has been great for O.J. news, and that’s not including the focus on FX’s record-breaking new show. According to reports, when O.J.’s house was being demolished in 1998, a construction worker discovered a knife buried on the property. The item was turned over to an off-duty policeman, who proceeded to hold onto it for roughly 18 years. It’s currently undergoing testing by the LAPD to determine if it’s the real thing — though lead prosecutor Marcia Clark pointed out it might be a hoax, and the owner of the demolition company said it was probably just a joke.
But this episode offers some potential police misconduct of its own, from one detective admitting on the stand that he had taken evidence home with him (even if just for a few hours) to Mark Furhman perjuring himself by stating under oath that he hadn’t used a particular racial epithet since 1986. But mostly, as the installment’s title “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” suggests, this episode is focused on the case’s female prosecutor and her struggle to live up to her new role as America’s most famous working mother.
Marcia Clark has “been redeemed,” New York Magazine declared, as the show has presented a “sharply feminist reexamination of her treatment in the courtroom and in the media.” And with Episode 6, women everywhere will recognize that what was sold as a mean, cold persona was just what it looks like to be overworked, under-slept, and maybe a little frustrated with your male counterparts. Clark’s problems have been building during the series’ first half, and are now coming to a head. Her custody battle is tabloid fodder, critiquing her appearance has become a national pastime, and, while he addressed the other lawyers formally, Judge Ito continues to call her simply, “Marcia.” Though the lawyer’s image on the show is remarkably different than her portrayal in the primary source material, Jeffery Toobin’s The Run of His Life, the writers stayed pretty close to the facts … most of the time. Check out these five details from this week’s chapter, fact-checked and rated on a one-to-five Glove scale for accuracy.
Marcia’s “babysitting problem”
On June 9, 1994, just 3 days before the Brown-Goldman murders, Clark filed for divorce from her second husband and father of her children, Gordon Clark. Seven years his senior, she was the big earner for the family; by time the trial was underway, she relying on outside help to care for their two young sons, ages three and five. Gordon, however, spun “hired help” into the equivalent of “unfit parent,” and he filed for primary custody. Her spouse took every opportunity to slag her in the media: Citing an occasion when Marcia requested that the proceedings not run too late one evening — so that she could care for her kids — Gordon told the press that he could have easily picked them up, and therefore she was using their children as an excuse to gain advantage in the case.
From the other direction, her attempts at being a hands-on parent during the trial were repeatedly mocked in court, by everyone from defense litigator Johnnie Cochran to Judge Lance Ito. On the show, the defense asks the court to consider a new witness around three o’clock in the afternoon, noting that the day will go late. Clark asks the judge to hold off on the drawn-out hearing on account of her children, Cochran belittles his opponent: “Are we really going to risk losing this witness because of a babysitting problem?” Then her boss guilt-trips her into staying anyway, and her ex goes on TV to call her a liar. In Toobin’s account, it was closer to six in the evening; she did have just enough time to pick up her kids; and she had informed the court several times of her child-care issues. Other than that, the episode seems to pretty accurately depict what it must have been like to be a working mom in the Nineties. (“How like a man to assume child care is something accomplished with a click of a cellular phone,” wrote one prescient columnist, in a rare defense of Clark.)