Christopher Darden's Case History Shows He Stayed Out Of The Legal Spotlight After The Simpson Trial
Whether they liked it or not, every single participant in the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial became an instant celebrity. Prosecutor Christopher Darden was a latecomer to that fame when he was asked to join Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark on the team. Played by Sterling K. Brown on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Darden, like his colleagues, had never tried a case with such an immense level of public interest before Simpson. And Chris Darden's case history shows that the prosecutor hasn't tried a case with that level of public interest since, though he is still practicing law.
When Darden accepted the Simpson assignment, he was already a respected and experienced trial lawyer in Los Angeles. According to his William Morris Endeavor biography, in the 15 years he'd worked at the District Attorney's office prior to the case, Darden tried 21 homicide cases and received local recognition for his service to victims and their families. The bio goes on to note that as the Assistant Head Deputy Attorney of the Special Investigations Division, his work also took on accusations of police corruption and instances of excessive force, an ongoing issue that had set a volatile stage for the Simpson trial, which ended with Simpson being found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Darden was burdened with unfortunate notoriety when he made the tactical error of asking Simpson to try on a pair of bloody gloves in front of the court. When NBC 4 Southern California interviewed Darden about his decision, the prosecutor simply said, "Well, I looked at his hands and I looked at the gloves and I thought they would fit." It's an indelible image from The Trial Of The Century: Simpson shaking his head while trying to stuff his hand into a garment that was clearly too small. Darden's mistake birthed defense attorney Johnnie Cochran's famous soundbite, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
The Chicago Tribune reported Darden's departure from the DA's office after the trial was over to teach law students at Southwestern University. He later admitted to being depleted by the experience in an interview with Oprah on the OWN Network. "I stood up there and said I'm not bitter, no, no. I'm not hurt by this. I stood up there trying to act as if this was, you know, hey, you know, we fought the good fight. It was a good game, somebody had to lose," he said about his truncated post-verdict press conference. "That was a lie. I don't mind losing, I've lost before. But to lose this way, to lose like this? To have this process turned into a mockery, a circus, a joke..." The lawyer mince no words, calling the trial "a waste of [his] life." Watch the rest of that interview below.
Since leaving the DA's office, Darden has not given up entirely on the criminal justice system. He's now in private practice in Los Angeles as a criminal defense attorney. According to his LinkedIn profile, Darden & Associates, Inc. specializes in "white collar, narcotics, marijuana, homicide and gang cases." And the firm's Yelp page (5 stars, by the way) promises prospective clients that "Darden's thorough experience on both sides of criminal prosecution, both as a former prosecutor and now currently as a criminal defense attorney give him a unique edge in providing his clients with superior results."
When Darden's name shows up in national news, it's still usually in reference to the Simpson case and not his current work. In 2012, Reuters reported that Darden accused Cochran of tampering with the infamous glove, before saying that "he wasn't specifically accusing anyone." In response, defense team member Alan Dershowitz called the allegation "a total fabrication." And just last week, TMZ ran footage of the lawyer commenting on American Crime Story.
Though his career has continued with fiction and non-fiction writing, a professorship, and yes, practicing law, it seems Darden will be answering questions about the Simpson trial for years to come.