Bumbling Bailey deepens suspicion Simpson's guilty

March 22, 1995|By ROGER SIMON

As a former Marine and a former Baltimore City police detective, Jim Dunphy, 65, is extremely well-qualified for what he does every day:

He watches the O. J. Simpson trial.

And his assessment thus far?

"I wouldn't let F. Lee Bailey represent me on a traffic ticket," Dunphy said.

But as the entire free world knows, Bailey, too, was a Marine. So what about loyalty to a fellow Leatherneck and Semper Fi and all that?

"I wouldn't let Bailey represent me on a parking ticket," Dunphy said.

Dunphy bases this pungent (and I would say correct) analysis of Bailey on Bailey's miserable cross-examination of Detective Mark Fuhrman last week.

Nor is Dunphy impressed with Bailey's obsession with the Marine Corps.

(The Marines have produced many fine men. They have also produced Lee Harvey Oswald.)

To a significant extent, however, F. Lee Bailey may determine whether O. J. Simpson goes to prison or goes free.

That's because Mark Fuhrman is the key player in the defense's "police conspiracy" theory, a theory that has the police planting evidence to convict O. J. Simpson.

And if Fuhrman is not shown to have planted the bloody glove at Simpson's house -- which Bailey promised the court he would do "with evidence far stronger than the people will ever offer against O. J. Simpson for the murders" -- the defense theory is gravely weakened.

Bailey has also thrown the dice when it comes to painting Fuhrman as a racist.

True, at the end of this trial, the jurors may be instructed that if a witness has lied about one part of his testimony, he may have lied about all of his testimony.

So if Mark Fuhrman has lied about not being a racist, it may be that he has lied about not planting the glove.

But who is this witness that Bailey talked to "Marine to Marine" who will help prove Fuhrman is a racist?

It is Max Cordoba, who has said for months in both print and on television that Mark Fuhrman never used racist language in his presence.

Now, Cordoba has changed his mind.

Why? Because in mid-January, Cordoba "dreamt" about Fuhrman using racist language to him 10 years ago "and in dreaming about it I started getting flashbacks about what occurred."

And maybe that is why they call the Simpson defense the "Dream Team."

What makes the Simpson trial unique, however, is not what the participants are alleged to have done. Plenty of murder trials go on every day in America.

What is unique is the number of people watching this trial.

Both sides have commented that no matter what is alleged in court, the phones begin ringing back in their offices with viewers offering corroboration or rebuttal.

Even people without any direct knowledge of the case such as Jim Dunphy have become keen analysts, sometimes, it seems, more keen than the lawyers.

Or at least more keen than F. Lee Bailey.

"Remember how F. Lee Bailey brought up the fact that Fuhrman didn't know there was a door along the passageway where he found the glove at O. J. Simpson's house?" Dunphy asked.

Yes, I said. Bailey made a big deal out of it.

"Well, it's pretty obvious to me," Dunphy said, "that Simpson, rushing back from the crime scene, sees the limo driver waiting in front of his house, leaps over the wall to the passageway and tries to get into the house through that door to avoid detection."

And Dunphy's theory is exactly the theory that some reporters sitting in the Simpson press room in Los Angeles hit upon as soon as Bailey mentioned the door.

Bailey thought he had caught Fuhrman in an obvious flub: A cop investigating a murder can't find a big door.

Instead, reporters, television watchers and possibly members of the jury reached a different conclusion: So that's what O. J. was doing back there!

Which does not mean this theory is true.

But F. Lee Bailey is supposed to be planting reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors as to Simpson's guilt, not as to his innocence.

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