Simpson attorneys seek personnel records of detectives who probed slayings

August 19, 1994|By New York Times News Service

LOS ANGELES -- Lawyers for O. J. Simpson filed a motion yesterday seeking access to personnel records of the four Los Angeles police detectives who investigated the stabbing deaths of Mr. Simpson's former wife and a friend of hers.

The defense team also asked for any records that would show if one detective, Mark Fuhrman, had a history of racial bias.

Last week in court, the chief defense counsel, Robert L. Shapiro, asserted that race would not be an issue in the case.

The lawyers contended in the motion, which is scheduled to be argued in court on Aug. 31, that the records are "critical to central issues in this case" regarding the credibility of the detectives and the "hidden motives and potential prejudices" of Mr. Fuhrman.

Mr. Shapiro did not return a telephone call seeking comment. Nor did the District Attorney's Office respond to the motion. The police referred questions to the City Attorney's Office. A spokesman there, Ted Goldstein, said that since none of the detectives had sought representation, the office would have no comment.

Mr. Simpson's trial on the two murder charges is scheduled to begin on Sept. 19. He has pleaded not guilty.

The defense lawyers accused the detectives of misstating facts and acting improperly to justify their request for a search warrant of Mr. Simpson's estate on June 13, the morning after the bodies were found at Nicole Brown Simpson's townhouse.

Even though the judge presiding over Mr. Simpson's preliminary hearing last month ruled that the detectives had acted properly that morning, the defense lawyers asked for records for the last five years on the four officers -- Mr. Fuhrman, Phillip Vannatter, Tom Lange and Ronald Phillips.

The defense said it wanted to check whether any of the officers had falsified documents or evidence in a case, failed to follow department policy or had contact with Mr. Simpson or the two victims.

The defense also asked for a wealth of background on Mr. Fuhrman, including anything that would describe "acts of alleged prejudice or bias" based on race, sex or ethnicity.

The motion filed yesterday involved several documents, including psychiatric reports already made public by the defense, in which Mr. Simpson's lawyers say Mr. Fuhrman expressed "negative opinions against African-Americans and other people of color."

The motion also alleges that there was a 1987 complaint in which Mr. Fuhrman was accused of shooting a suspect and then, the motion says, helping to "plant a weapon near the fallen suspect" as a way to justify his action.

Mr. Fuhrman was the detective who had recovered a right-handed blood-stained glove on Mr. Simpson's property that appeared to match a left-handed glove found at Mrs. Simpson's townhouse.

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