The Life and Career of Marcia Clark, Criminal Defense Attorney
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On October 3, 1995 — before reality television ruled the airwaves — people watched the guilty verdict of the OJ Simpson murder trial with all the enthusiasm of an American Idol finale. Like the singing contestants, the legal team also had to appear in front of judges and peers. This trial made them overnight celebrities. Marcia Clark, one of the Los Angeles District Attorneys who prosecuted Simpson during the highly publicized trial, became one of the most talked about names during the process.
An already high powered prosecutor, Marcia Clark began her legal career as a criminal defense attorney. Once she joined the prosecutor's office, she honed her courtroom skills and rhetorical talents. She soon amassed some impressive stats. With 19 successful homicide convictions already under her belt, she was hand picked to head the prosecution team. Their mission was to get a double murder conviction delivered on OJ Simpson. At the time, he was a beloved football icon.
This task proved much more difficult to handle than she and her team had anticipated. Clark squared off against Johnny Cochran and a mountain of legal talent on the defense side. F. Lee Bailey himself was one of the defense team's members. Throughout the trial, Ms. Clark continued to demonstrate her courtroom skills as a tenacious and highly prepared prosecutor. She also showed that she had the chops to handle and explain complex scientific evidence.
Although Simpson was acquitted of the double homicide, Clark's name didn't immediately vanish. Other members of the legal teams sought more exposure, but Marcia Clark hit the jackpot. Esquire magazine named Clark its Woman of the Year for 1995. She also appeared on television shows and was a contributing writer to magazines and newspapers. Her topics included the trial and aftermath, and the issues of domestic abuse. In 1997, she resigned from the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and wrote a book detailing the entire O.J. Simpson trial. These pages provided an inside look at a case that was the prosecution's to lose. The book gave multiple reasons as to why the case became such a fiasco. The book, Without a Doubt, went straight to the top of several best-seller lists. A promotional book tour introduced Ms. Clark to a wider media world of entertainment.
Clark quickly became a popular guest on the Today show and 20/20. Her appearances with Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey gave her additional public visibility. People wanted to see and hear more from the prosecutor that lost the Simpson case. She was even a radio show host in California for a short time.
In 1998, after the Simpson trial concluded, Ms. Clark agreed to sign a contract with the NBC network. She agreed to act as a legal correspondent and provide commentary and opinions about high profile cases that were played out in public.
She has also appeared on many different NBC shows including Judge and Jury, Equal Time, and even Rivera Live, which she hosted during many of Geraldo's absences. She also appeared in guest spots on Hard Ball with Chris Matthews, as well as on Newschat. There was a short lived program on NBC called Lie Detector which she also hosted. On the show were invited guests who had various brushes with the law. They agreed to interviews by Ms. Clark and they also agreed to a polygraph examination. After completing the polygraph exam, Clark would announce test results and interview the guests again. Among some of her guests were Terry Nichol's brother and Tonya Harding's husband. Although not nearly as controversial as OJ, these guests did have name recognition and sensationalized legal problems.
Today, Marcia Clark remains highly visible as a talking head on several popular television shows. You can find her offering legal opinions on Insiders and Entertainment Tonight. It was through her ET legal correspondent position that she ended up at the recent Nevada trial of OJ Simpson. Ms. Clark continually stated that she would be an unbiased and objective reporter, but many people had their doubts. Nonetheless, millions of people tuned in to Entertainment Tonight to hear Marcia Clark's take on the new Simpson case.
Having failed to secure murder convictions on Mr. Simpson in California 13 years ago, one can only imagine what went through her mind as the trial played out. Thirteen years ago, OJ Simpson managed to elude Marcia Clark and her team in the courtroom. Clark came up empty on the guilty verdict. This time though, a Las Vegas jury gave the prosecuting team a slam dunk victory. If you read some of Ms. Clark's comments, you can see the verdict gave her a small measure of satisfaction.
You can also find Marcia Clark on the lecture circuit, both in the United States and in Canada. She is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer on the subject of domestic violence. This is a topic she has taken to heart since the 1995 Simpson case. She talks about the widespread and hidden prevalence of domestic violence and its impact on all family members. Many national groups that fight domestic violence call upon her to give lectures.
Today, Marcia Clark can be booked as a keynote or guest speaker. Clark has also undergone a visible physical transformation. At the age of 54, she's cut her hair and dyed it blonde. Gone is the drab brown hair and gone too are the tightly permed curls which caused so many grimaces 13 years ago. She attributes her different look to the desire for a change. If it was change she was after, she must have done it right. At the Las Vegas OJ trial, there were few people who recognized her.
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