Ex-D.A. Garcetti Says He Didn’t Fire Prosecutor Darden
Contradicts Darden’s Statement on Geragos-Hosted Podcast
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, while praising O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden, now a candidate for a Los Angeles Superior Court open seat, has disputed Darden’s account of having been fired while on a pre-arranged paid one-year leave of absence after the “trial of the century” ended with a guilty verdict.
Garcetti was district attorney while the trial, which was televised worldwide, was in progress in 1994-95. He is now a professional photographer.
A July 13, 2016 account on the Internet—alluded to in yesterday’s MetNews report on an endorsement of Darden by the judge in the Simpson case, Lance Ito—tells of Darden’s remarks in a podcast hosted by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos and comedian/actor Adam Carolla.
The article by television editor Tony Maglio on a website called “The Wrap” says:
“Darden told the PodcastOne duo that he technically took a (paid) year off after OJ Simpson’s acquittal in the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson—an effort for the burned-out lawyer to burn comp time—but Marcia Clark’s wingman always intended to return to his Los Angeles County District Attorneys’ Office post.
“Unfortunately, they allegedly didn’t want him back after that earned hiatus, Darden said. During the interview, he recalled receiving a phone call that pointed him to a legal newspaper article saying the now-famous prosecutor has been terminated because Darden ‘abandoned his job.’
“Not understanding the mixup, the man who infamously had OJ Simpson try on the Isotoner [gloves] in evidence reached out to boss Gil Garcetti, who promptly clarified the situation for him.
“ ‘Nope, you’re fired,’ ” Darden recalled Garcetti’s ‘Dear John’ note saying. And in handwriting it said, ‘Have a nice life.’ ”
Garcetti, in response to a request for comment, said in an email Monday night:
“Chris Darden would have been fully welcomed back in any capacity after he left the office following the Simpson verdict. He is and was an exemplary trial lawyer and is a wonderful human being.
“I believe civil services rules precluded him from coming back as a Grade IV Deputy because he had been gone in excess of one year. Had he come back to the office it would have been at a huge pay cut from his Grade IV salary. Our loss!”
“…I would enthusiastically support him for a position on the L.A. Superior Court.”
Darden yesterday expressed gratitude to Garcetti for the endorsement but did not address the disparity in their accounts as to his separation from the District Attorney’s Office, saying:
“Gil Garcetti is a friend to me and my family and someone I hold in high regard. I was genuinely touched to read his kind remarks about me. He and I were truly in the trenches together and it was a surreal time—becoming suddenly world famous (or infamous) just for doing the same job you did before you were thrust in to the spotlight. I wanted to be an advocate for victims, not a celebrity, and I’m sure that many of us that went through this experience together felt the same way.
“Today, I am focused only on my future, which includes a focus on serving on the bench. But again, I thank Mr. Garcetti for his support. It is appreciated.”
Darden is vying with three others for Office No. 130. His rivals are Deputy District Attorneys Leslie Gutierrez and Jacob Lee and private practitioner D. Carlos Dammeier.
Remark to Clark
In her book, “Without a Doubt,” Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the Simpson case, quoted Darden as having told her in March 1995:
“When this case is over, I’m going to take about a year off and do nothing but kick in my crib, drink beer, and watch the games.”
It was over on Oct. 3 of that year when the jury acquitted Simpson. Darden went on paid leave that day.
Rather than being idle, as he had planned to be, Darden became an educator. The Associated Press reported on Dec. 12 of that year that Darden “has taken a leave of absence from the District Attorneys Office for a full-time professorship at Southwestern University School of Law,” starting the following month.
The dispatch says:
“District attorneys spokeswoman Suzanne Childs said Darden has submitted a request for a leave of absence and has not resigned from the office, where he has worked for 14 years. Childs said she didn’t know how long a leave Darden requested.”
Copyright 2023, Metropolitan News Company