Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O.J. Jury to Hear Fuhrman Use Slur

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

O.J. Jury to Hear Fuhrman Use Slur

Article excerpt

Judge Lance Ito ruled Thursday that jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial could hear just two of 41 remarks in which retired LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman used a racial slur for blacks.

Ito's ruling means the predominantly black jury will not hear Fuhrman boast of brutalizing and framing suspects, manufacturing probable cause and singling out minorities for mistreatment.

However, Ito ruled that aspiring screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny could tell the jury that Fuhrman used the word "nigger" 41 times during the interviews she had conducted since 1985 for a fictional project about the Los Angeles Police Department.

Fuhrman, who testified that he found a bloody glove behind Simpson's mansion, denied under oath in March that he had used the slur during the past 10 years. Fuhrman is now retired and living in Idaho.

Ito said that two statements could be introduced because they directly contradicted Fuhrman's sworn testimony on using the racial slur.

In one, contained in a transcript but erased from its original tape, Fuhrman states: "We have no niggers where I grew up."

In the other, he is asked by McKinny why Black Muslims live in a particular area. "That's where niggers live," he responds. The jury will hear that comment in Fuhrman's voice, since the tape of that interview was saved.

In explaining why he would not admit into evidence the dozens of other offensive references, Ito wrote: "The court finds the probative value of the remaining examples is substantially and overwhelmingly outweighed by the danger of undue prejudice."

He said the use of the racial slur in those many other passages had the potential to provoke the jury, particularly because the epithet in question is "perhaps the single most insulting, inflammatory and provocative term in use in modern-day America."

Simpson's lead trial lawyer, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., responded to the ruling with sharp condemnation of Ito. The decision, Cochran said, was "perhaps one of the cruelest, unfairest decisions ever rendered in a criminal court."

The district attorney's office released a statement expressing satisfaction with the ruling.

"While we decry racism, these tapes are for another forum, not this murder trial," District Attorney Gil Garcetti said in the statement. …

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