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April 11, 1996 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-11

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48 - The Michigan Daily - Weulede, c. - Thursday, April 11, 1996
Robert Shapiro's book tells his side of famous O.. Simpson trial saga

By Elizabeth Lucas
Daily Arts Writer
From the chase in the white Bronco to
the reading of the verdict, probably every
person in the country is familiar with the
lengthy saga of the O.J. Simpson murder
trial. It went beyond a news event to
become a permanent part of mass con-
sciousness, with seemingly nonstop cov-
erage on CNN andcountless O.J.jokes on
late-night talk shows.
And yet, paradoxically, the amount
df nedia coverage seemed to decrease
what viewers actually knew about the
participants. Viewers recognized their
faces, but had no idea what they really
thought.
This is now changing, as lawyers and
jury members have begun writing books
to give their perspectives on the trial. One
example is defense lawyer Robert
Shapiro's book, "The Search for Justice,"
which provides an intriguing inside look
at the defense team's side of the trial. But

as this wasn't Shapiro's real purpose in
writing the book, there are other insights
to be gained from it as well.
"One reason I wrote the book is to set
the record straight," Shapiro said, in an
interview with The Michigan Daily be-
fore he visited on tour Tuesday. "And I
wanted to use it as a forum to let people
know what the system ofjustice can do
and what it can't do, and to explain what
the role of a criminal defense lawyer is.
I'm in a position now where I have a
forum, and hopefully, I can use it to
educate people on the system ofjustice,
,and hopefully to be able to talk about
things that happened in this case, and to
have positive effects in the future."
Shapiro's book is only one addition
to the ongoing O.J. story; the trial re-
ceived an unprecedented amount ofme-
dia coverage, which is still continuing.
While this may be seen as overexpo-
sure, Shapiro felt that it was beneficial
to the trial, on the whole.

"(Televising the trial) let the Ameri-
can public come into the courtroom for
the first time; there were only seven
seats for the public," Shapiro said. "The
other thing is, it allowed people to see
some of the witnesses, especially Mark
Fuhrman. People came forward as a
result of his testimony, saying they had
evidence of impeachment, to show that
things he said were not being truthful.
And without it being televised, you
wouldn't have got that."
The media made this a case unlike
any other, and so did other aspects of
the trial, such as O.J.'s "Dream Team"
of lawyers. Less complicated cases can
be tried with one defense lawyer, but as
Shapiro said, "It required the input of a
lot of very smart, skillful lawyers be-
cause there was so much material. The
real key in this case was moving quickly
and getting ahead of the prosecution,
and for that we needed a lot of lawyers."
Shapiro said he believed that the

Simpson case could be educational for
other lawyers as well. "They can learn a
tremendous amount about what a trial is
really about, and the different roles -
because you don't learn this in law school
- between a prosecutor and a defense
lawyer. Prospective lawyers and law stu-
dents can also see how lawyers should
behave andhow they shouldn't behave "
Yet, although the lawyers in the case
behaved in a variety of ways, Shapiro's
self-assurance never wavered. "I felt
confident from the beginning that the
worst thing that could happen would be
a hung jury," he said. "And unless the
lawyers made a drastic mistake, there
would never be a conviction."
Shapiro attributed this to a number of
questionable decisions on the part of the
prosecution. "They started out early on
and brought this case before any evidence
was ever analyzed, after four days," he
said. "So they moved too quickly. And
clearly, calling Mark Fuhrman was amis-

take, especially afterChristopher Darden,
in his book, says he didn't believe Mark
Fuhrman. Asking O.J. to try on the glove
without them trying it on themselves - I
tried it on, I knew it wouldn't fit him. And
I don't think the prosecution ever really
bonded with the jury."
Another key issue in the case was the
DNA evidence. Shapiro said, "The
strongest part of the prosecution's case
was their blood evidence, so if it was
presented in an understandable fash-
ion, it would have been very, very im-
portant evidence. Although, I always
felt that there would be a doubt, not on
the science itself, but on the collection
and preservation. This raised doubts
about the validity of the evidence, or
what it really showed."
Shapiro also said that he would have
handled some aspects of the defense's
case differently, had he been the only
lawyer. "I have always said race would
not and should not be an issue in this case.

So, clearly, that was something I would
not have argued. I would have argued the
credibility of Mark Fuhrman, that he's
not a believable witness, and the credibil:
ity of Detective Vannatter. But the overall
strategy was something that we devel-
oped early on. The strategy was the wao
we outlined it, and it was successful."
Simpson's not-guilty verdict vindicated
Shapiro's confidence in the case. "I be.
lieved it was the correct verdict," he said.
"I was proud ofthe work that we had done
in presenting the case so well, but it
wasn't atime forcelebration-twopeople
had been murdered."
When the verdict was read, the public
was sharply divided on the question of
O.J.'s guilt or innocence, and no doubt
this has not changed. However, no matt*
which side readers support, "The Search
for Justice" will likely provide them a
greater understanding of the issues in the
trial. As Shapiro said, "It's up to them to
decide my own credibility."

Immature' band members grow up quickly

By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Everyone has an opinion on child-
hood stars. Some are stringently op-
posed to placing youngsters in the lime-
light. Others see stardom as a once-in-
a-lifetime opportunity; if the chance
comes when you're young, you should
be allowed to take it.
Regardless of the debate, no one can
denythataplentiful crop of child, teen-
age and young-adult individuals and
groups have earned fame. From the
legendary quintets the Jackson Five and

New Edition to the more modern young
rappers Kriss Kross and Da Brat, youths
have oftentimes attracted a healthy fan
base. In the last year alone, Soul for
Real, Monica, Subway and Brandy have
all earned musical acclaim, and none of
them have yet to hit age 20. While some
child groups seem to unexpectedly dis-
appear at a point when their popularity
is at their greatest (Another Bad Cre-
ation quickly comes to mind), some
have made it. And they continue to do
so.
Case in point: Immature. It seems

like only yesterday that three munchkin-
sized boys could be found on videos
screaming gleefully about how they
and Be-Be's Kids were one. Managed
by Chris Stokes, CEO of Hook Produc-
tions, Immature back then consisted of
members Marques "Batman" Houston,
Jerome "Romeo" Jones and Don "Half
Pint" Santos, all 12 years old. Their first
album, in keeping with their Immature
ways, was "On Our Worst Behavior"
(1993, Virgin).
"That album didn't sell too well,"
lead singer Batman admits. "But it was
cool seeing myself in the videos and
all." "On Our Worst Behavior" was
more than just a badly selling album; it
seemed sure to banish Immature to the
entertainment scrap heap never to be
heard from again. But then in 1994, like
the Batman swooping down on the quiet
City ofGotham, Immature returned with
a new member, a new album, a new
label, a new look and a whole new
outlook in life.
"Virgin Records didn't work out with
us," Batman explains. "They weren't
behind us, so we switched to MCA.
Things didn't work out with Half Pint
either. He was from the Philippines,
and his parents didn't believe in tutors."
So LDB (Kelton "Little Drummer Boy"
Kessee), who was in the Immature band,
was moved up to the group. "Romeo,

he's kind of a shy guy," Batman said.
"He's the quiet one, but if he gets to
know you he'll open up. LDB is the
comedian. He's always joking around
about everything.
"We went through a whole new im-
age change between our first two al-
bums," Batman continues. "We ma-
tured a lot in our singing." And boy,
does it show. The group's sophomore
album, "Playtyme Is Over" (1994,
MCA) caused more than a few double-
takes. These weren't the same crazily
screeching kids of two years past who
were at the time in fact not singing but
instead rapping. This time these guys,
all 13, came out sounding a great deal
more suave, sophisticated and mature.
The group name went from defining
who these kids were to what these young
teens had once been. On "Playtyme Is
Over," the group performed much bet-
ter on an R & B/ballad tip. It was as if
they wanted to sever any ties with their
crazed past and project the image of a
much more docile, wiser trio. The gold
single"Never Lie" and the highly popu-
lar song "Constantly" helped propel
this highly-relaxing album to a solid,
platinum finish.
With one album, the group that virtu-
ally everyone had forgotten about was
now one of the hottest commodities in
black music. And if"Playtyme is Over"

The band Immature Is just that - they are all 13 years old.

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paved the way for a potential Immature
revival, the group's newest album, "We
Got It" (1995, MCA) has shown that
these guys have what it takes to stay on
top.
The album still features a great deal
of R&B songs like the album's first
single "Feel the Funk" and "Please
Don't Go" (ironically the same title as
a song by New Edition). Yet there's
more.
"One thing about this album," Batman
gloats, "is it's a lot more hip-hoppish."
Immature has realized that it can be
upbeat without being crazy. The first
video from the album, the title track,
does a great job of exemplifying this. In
it we have Immature (featuring guest
rapper Smooth, manager Chris Stokes'

sister) rockin' the mic at an old folks
home. What you see these "elderly"
folks doing will remind you that ago i.s
definitely nothing but a number. r
That's exactly what 'Immature. is
screaming - only from the opposite
end of the age spectrum. Yes, they're
young. Batman and Romeo are now 13;
LDB turned 14 only recently. Every-
where they go they're being rushed by
a sea of fans and bodyguards. They are
being tutored full-time, and have been
since "Playtyme Is Over" was released.
The group has been on the big screen as
well ("House Party I1" featuring I
'N Play), and Batman even has a role :
the Fox Television sitcom "Sister, Sis-
ter." Life has changed. Batman admits
See IMMATURE, Page 90

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