What Is Gil Garcetti Doing Now? The Former LA District Attorney Explains Why He Stepped Back Into The Spotlight
After suffering the massive blow of the prosecution losing the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995, it was understandable that the former district attorney of Los Angeles hasn't spoken much about the Simpson case publicly. Yet, 22 years after the fact, Gil Garcetti appears in O.J.: Made in America to offer his insights into the trial of the century. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Garcetti was interviewed by the docuseries' director, Ezra Edelman, for nearly four hours and though he has been reluctant to speak out about the trial in years past, he opened up for the series. But what else has Garcetti been doing for the two decades since the Simpson trial? Garcetti tells Bustle that he's been up to a lot since the '90s, but has stayed out of the legal world.
I'm a full time photographer with seven photo books out, and I speak around the world on the issue of safe water in developing countries. I'm also a producer of the television show Major Crimes on TNT and previous to that it was The Closer on TNT. So, those are my primary things.
While you might assume that Garcetti has stayed out of the public eye because Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, he told the LA Times that he had never expected to see a guilty verdict from the jury. He had thought a hung jury was possible, with a better chance of getting a guilty verdict in a second trial, but after the case was finished, he did not agree to do what so many other people involved in the trial did: release a book or agree to an exclusive interview. Instead, he continued to work as the DA for Los Angeles until 2000 when he lost the position to Steve Cooley.
After his eight years as DA, he was appointed to the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission for a five-year term in 2002. His role on the ethics commission ended up involving his family since his own son, Eric Garcetti, was a councilman who was found to have "improperly used his office’s political account and failed to provide the commission with copies of campaign mailers" in 2004, according to LA Weekly. CNN also reported that Eric paid fines in 2011 for another incident that involved accepting tickets to the 2007 Emmy Awards and the 2007 and 2008 Oscars and had the following response:
"While I paid the full cost of the awards show tickets ... I messed up when it came to the dinners afterward. That's my mistake, and I'm personally paying for the cost of these three dinners now to clear it up."
Gil Garcetti himself ended up being fined $1,500 when he was the president of the Ethics Commission for contributing to his son's campaign for the Los Angeles City Council in 2006, according to AP Online. He said that his wife asked him to sign the $500 check and he didn't realize it was for Eric's campaign. Regardless of these troubles, Eric was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 2013, with a little help from his dad who supported his son by speaking at fundraisers and attending debates, the LA Times reported. Garcetti had no comment on this incident.
Since then, Garcetti has used his political power to be a voice for issues that he is concerned about. One of those issues is the death penalty in California, which he voiced his opposition to in an op-ed for the LA Times in 2011. In an interview with Bustle he explains his position on the topic, which is the only legal issue he speaks on these days. "When I was District Attorney, I supported the death penalty. But I've reversed my position where I believe it's a total waste of money," he says. "It's of no useful purpose, it's not a deterrent, and you can better spend that money addressing the bigger issues than housing people on Death Row in California."
He also advocates for clean water in West Africa through the foundation Wells Bring Hope, which was inspired by Garcetti visiting West Africa in 2001 and seeing how many rural communities didn't have access to safe drinking water.
He helps spread awareness for the organization not just by frequently attending speaking engagements on the topic, but also through art. Garcetti is an accomplished photographer who has released a number of books of his images, including Water Is Key, which features images from his trips to Africa. His efforts in the clean water initiative led to him being sworn in as a cultural ambassador for the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in 2014.
Besides his photography, Garcetti has also contributed to the entertainment world through his expertise in politics by being a consulting producer on the TNT shows The Closer and Major Crimes. Despite his relative silence about the Simpson case until now, Garcetti has managed to stay relevant in both politics and entertainment — a rare achievement.
His son Eric was the one who convinced him to be interviewed for O.J.: Made in America, which he told the LA Times that Edelman made with "great intellect and sensitivity and passion." Edelman had kind words to say about Garcetti too from his time interviewing him, saying, "My experience with Gil from the time I spent with him is a guy who frankly is unflappable and is simply cool." And Garcetti's career outside of the Simpson trial definitely supports that assessment.
In a statement to Bustle, Garcetti reiterates that his son helped convince him to to the interview and why he thinks it was so important for him to come forward two decades later. "For 22 years almost, I did not speak out about the O.J. Simpson case. I moved on with my life and left that behind," he says. "But it was my son Eric who convinced me that it was time for me to talk about the facts and perceptions that I had involving that trial, because it was very important to the history of Los Angeles and maybe even the history of the nation."
And, given how we're all still talking about it years later, I'd say Garcetti is correct.