Judge refuses to force screenwriter to testify in O.J. Simpson case
NORTH CAROLINA–An appeals court in Raleigh decided in early August that a screenwriter who had worked with Los Angeles Police Department Det. Mark Fuhrman should provide testimony and taped evidence in the O.J. Simpson case.
The decision by a panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Raleigh overturned an earlier trial court decision in which a judge refused to compel Laura Hart McKinny, who is a professor at the North Carolina School of the Arts, to testify about comments she heard Fuhrman make, according to The New York Times.
Superior Court Judge William Z. Wood in Winston-Salem had said the evidence being sought by Johnnie Cochran Jr., Simpson’s chief defense lawyer, was not material to the Simpson trial, according to The Times. KcKinney said that she did not want to testify in the case because it would harm her efforts to sell her screenplay and subject her to harassment by the media.
Cochran contested the decision, and the appeals court agreed that Fuhrman’s remarks could “reasonably make a difference in the outcome of the trial,” The Times reported. California Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito has yet to decide whether he will allow the evidence and testimony in Simpson’s trial.
McKinney testified that she heard Los Angeles police officer Mark Fuhrman use racial epithets in the course of their work. When McKinny wrote a screenplay 10 years ago, Fuhrman acted as her business partner and consultant. McKinny emphasized that Fuhrman used the word “nigger” only in the context of their work and not as an expression of his own views.
Cochran has contended that tapes of conversations between McKinny and Fuhrman were filled with racial slurs, which would show that Fuhrman lied on the stand when he said he did not use those kinds of words. The Simpson defense team had hoped to use this as evidence to impeach Fuhrman’s testimony, The New York Times reported. (Simpson v. McKinny; Media Counsel: Matthew Schwartz, Los Angeles)