Alan Dershowitz On 'Larry King Live' Shows The Lawyer's Contributions To The Dream Team
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson has served as an introduction to some of the lesser known players in the Trial of the Century. Most people are familiar with, say, Johnnie Cochran's "if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" refrain, but some of his fellow lawyers are getting the primetime TV spotlight for the first time in ACS, like DNA expert Barry Scheck and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz. And Alan Dershowitz's real appearance on Larry King Live shows the lawyer's flamboyant style and way with words made him an important member of O.J. Simpson's "Dream Team," the defense team that helped Simpson be found not guilty.
As portrayed on the show by Evan Handler, who will always be Charlotte's husband Harry Goldenblatt on Sex and the City to me, Dershowitz is almost amused by the case, seen gleefully explaining to his class of Harvard students how masterfully Johnnie Cochran is at arguing in the courtroom. But the real Dershowitz has been critical of his portrayal on The People v. O.J. Simpson, as he told the NY Daily News, "The idea that I was hired in order to shut me up is just totally ridiculous" and expressing concern at the series showing things that would've been covered by attorney-client privilege. However, if you want to hear Dershowitz's thoughts on the trial itself, they're still easy to find thanks to a TV appearance.
In a well-known appearance on Larry King from 1996, Dershowitz spoke about the case opposite author Vincent Bugliosi, who wrote Outrage: The Five Reasons O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder. The interview, which you can listen to above, is a fierce debate between two smart, completely opposed lawyers. Dershowitz defended the "not guilty" verdict rendered by the jury, while Bugliosi was intensely critical, particularly about the blood evidence presented. As you can see (well, hear), Dershowitz artfully dodged a few questions, focusing on the defense's strategy to propose that "two police officers, who honestly and deeply believed, in Vince's own words, 'knew' that Simpson was guilty — whether or not that's true — decided that he was going to get acquitted like many other people thought and that some help was needed." When Detective Mark Fuhrman was asked if he had planted any evidence during the trial, he evoked the fifth amendment, as reported by the LA Times. In his book Murder in Brentwood, published after the trial in 1997, Fuhrman wrote, "one thing I will not apologize for is my policework on the Simpson case. I did a good job; I did nothing wrong."
Dershowitz continued to claim, "And what they did is ... they lied and committed perjury and may well have tampered with evidence, and the jury believed that." Bulgiosi disagreed with that assertion, but both lawyers agreed that the prosecution was "terrible," and that much of those flaws fell at the feet of prosecutor Chris Darden, who conducted the glove demonstration that was uncomfortably recreated on The People v. O.J. Simpson.
But the centerpiece of Dershowitz and Bugliosi's argument was all about one thing: blood evidence. Countering Dershowitz's points about how Furhman's participation in the case caused the jury to have reasonable doubt about Simpson's guilt, Bugliosi asked: "How do you handle reasonable doubt when Simpson's blood is found at the murder scene?" Dershowitz claimed otherwise, saying that Simpson told him "he repeatedly bled" at the crime scene and that the samples were "old brown, and degraded."
Their argument continued from there, as they dove into every step of the blood collection, from the samples' alleged contamination to a measure of the blood sample given by Simpson that was "unaccounted for." But Bugliosi did have a triumphant moment when he pointed out "Even your colleagues, Alan, ... did not allege in their summation, that the LAPD planted drops of Simpson's blood directly to the left of the killer's shoeprints," suggesting that Dershowitz's claim that if any fresh blood from Simpson was found at the crime scene, it must have been because of an LAPD conspiracy, was untrue.
Dershowitz's appearance on Larry King shows just how much information this jury was juggling when they had to decide their verdict.