Did Chris Darden Warn Marcia Clark About Mark Fuhrman? He Really Had A "Bad Feeling"
Remember in earlier episodes of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, when Chris Darden repeatedly warned Marcia Clark to not put Mark Fuhrman on the stand during the O.J. Simpson murder trial? Well, the concerns Darden had about the Los Angeles police detective are about to come to a head in the March 29 episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson. In "Manna from Heaven," the defense will bring forward evidence that Fuhrman had said the n-word in his lifetime, something earlier in the trial that he had sworn under oath he had never said in the last 10 years. Darden had previously told Clark on American Crime Story that he thought the detective did not come off a genuine when he spoke about black people, but this warning from Darden is not what happened in real life, according to Clark.
Fuhrman was the detective who had found the blood-stained glove at Simpson's residence that matched the glove found at the scene of the crime. Because of this, on the series, Clark insisted that Fuhrman be put on the stand since he was the officer who had found the glove, which Darden expressed wariness of. Not only did Darden appear to believe allegations of Fuhrman being racist, he said that other people of color on the jury would be able to tell Fuhrman was disingenuous too. The series implied that Clark wanted Darden to do the cross-examination of Fuhrman after prosecutor Bill Hodgman left the case for health reasons (in real life, Hodgman took on a limited role in the case) because Darden was the sole black prosecutor. As a pseudo favor, Johnnie Cochran was shown telling Darden to make sure he got Clark to do the cross-examination of Fuhrman because of the racial implications that the defense would be presenting.
According to an interview Clark gave to Vulture about the validity of American Crime Story Episode 6, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia," the show's portrayal of the circumstances surrounding the prosecution having Fuhrman testify was inaccurate. Clark said:
That's not true. That's what comes from [Jeffrey Toobin's] book and is just absurd. And Toobin doesn't know. He made that up. Toobin's idea was, why did we even have to call Fuhrman? And that comes from somebody who really doesn't know a thing about trial work. We cannot get away with not calling Mark Fuhrman. That's a silly, ridiculous thing to say. So the question never was: Should we put Fuhrman on the stand? The question became, who is gonna put him on the stand? Truth is, when Bill [Hodgman] dropped out of the case, I pushed all of his witnesses to Chris. Fuhrman was one of Bill's witnesses. It was never, 'We're targeting the black guy to put on the racist.'
The People v. O.J. Simpson is directly inspired by Jeffrey Toobin's book, The Run Of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, which has generally been regarded as an unbiased account of the murder trial. While Clark does criticize this specific aspect of Toobin's book with being fictional, she told Vulture that after preparing Fuhrman's testimony, Darden did start to feel uncomfortable and she agreed to be the one to put him on the stand. Clark also admitted that she herself was not 100 percent confident with putting Fuhrman on the stand after the preliminary hearing when he "became the lightning rod for all of the defense claims" and she started receiving information of Fuhrman saying racial slurs.
Although there aren't any currently accessible reports of Darden saying whether or not he had warned Clark about Fuhrman, he said on Oprah back in 2006 that he had a "bad feeling" about Fuhrman before any evidence of racist remarks from the detective were revealed. Darden also revealed to Oprah Winfrey that Cochran did in fact pull him aside to tell him not to put Fuhrman on the stand.
However, no matter the warnings of bad feelings in both the show and in real life, Fuhrman was put on the stand where he gave testimony of the glove evidence. But that wasn't all, as the series showed that defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey also asked Fuhrman about his use of the n-word, which the detective denied. And in "Manna from Heaven" Fuhrman's use racial slurs will be revealed, bringing a major blow to the prosecution's case.
While the series showed Darden frustrated with Clark's insistence to put Fuhrman on the stand, in real life, Darden's frustrations are understandably directed toward the detective. "You really can't be a friend of mine and be a friend of Mark Fuhrman's," Darden told Winfrey in that interview 10 years ago. "People in our case made mistakes. But the thing he did on the witness stand that day was intentional. He had every opportunity to tell me, to tell Marcia Clark, to tell someone about these epithets."