Marcia Clark is arguably the world’s most famous prosecutor. Her experience in the OJ Simpson trial turned her into a worldwide celebrity, thrusting her into the limelight.
Clark gave up her career as a prosecutor after the OJ trial, but continues to work in the world of law and crime as a TV writer, author and expert TV correspondent.
Her new TV series, Marcia Clark Investigates is currently airing on Crime and Investigation, BT TV channel 328 – BT TV customers can catch up now on the BT Player.
The show examines some of America’s most controversial legal cases as Marcia brings new evidence to the table and finally answers some unsolved mysteries.
We caught up with Marcia to find out more about the show, her life and the impact of American Crime Story.
When did you first become fascinated with crime?
I think I was fascinated with crime when I was 4 years old. Whether it was true crime or fiction, or just something I made up in my head, that started when I was really little. I actually wanted to write crime stories when I was really young, but writing didn’t seem to be a very reliable way to make a living. I can’t remember the exact moment I decided to become a lawyer, but it was when I was in my late teens or early 20s after I finished my undergrad.
When you cover a case as a lawyer or on this show, how much of your life does it take over?
As a lawyer, it completely takes over your life. Whether you’re the defence or prosecution, you live, breathe and sleep that case. That is all you can think about. You’re constantly going through the evidence, the witnesses, putting analysis together. And when you put a book or TV show together like this, it’s just the same. The research becomes an all-consuming thing.
How did you choose the cases you investigated?
A little of both. It was a joint effort with the network and we all had unanswered questions that we wanted resolved. We were particularly focusing on cases that had not been fully resolved in our eyes, so big cases like Robert Blake, Chandra Levy, Casey Anthony. In some of these cases, the jury came back ‘not guilty’ – was that appropriate, what more could have been done. We also cover what is known as Spreckels Mansions, the death of Rebecca Zahau, where the police ruled it as suicide, but it just didn’t fit. We wanted to look at cases with open questions that we could try and solve.
Which case surprised you the most?
There was something that shocked me about every one. The Casey Anthony case, we got some concrete new evidence that was very surprising from a computer search and cell phone records. That was concrete evidence – brand new. The Spreckels Mansion case, I had actually followed that case at the time and I hadn’t known how much inconsistent evidence there was surrounding her death and how much of it was inconsistent with suicide. In every case, there’s something that made me go, ‘oh you’re kidding!’.
Do you think shows like this can actually help bring justice?
I think they have. Serial was the first real biggie. That became so hugely powerful. Someone told me that got 100 million downloads. I don’t know if that was accurate, but people really got into that and it was because of the public scrutiny that the series caused, the judge granted a new trial. Whether that will help him on appeal, I don’t know, but that is an incredible impact. Making A Murderer, the examining of that case, I don’t know where that will land, but largely because of that documentary film, a difference was made. I think that’s fascinating.
American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson generated a huge amount of interest in your life and story with young viewers. Have you noticed a change when people come up to you?
Oh yeah. Especially the young ones. Often it’s people who were the right age to hear about the case, but didn’t watch it or follow it. They were too young to get involved in the ins and outs of the case. It’s been an amazing, humbling experience. All these people who know tell me that they went to law school because of that, ‘this is why I became a lawyer’. It leaves me speechless. It’s nice to know that the retelling of that story has had a positive impact.
Do you have to warn aspiring lawyers that not all cases will be quite as exciting as that one?
Ha. It’s not like that kids! I speak to people in their early 20s who are going into law and I have to explain what they see on TV isn’t what the world is really like. That case was a one-off, with bizarre circumstances, which never happens. Don’t go into law thinking that is what it’s going to be like. But actually that is for the better, because that was a nightmare experience. If you do go into and believe you can have a positive impact on justice and cases, that’s a great reason.
American Crime Story highlighted the sexism that you suffered in the OJ trial. Do you think things are radically different now and do you think #MeToo can have a real impact?
I do not believe things are radically different, but I do think things are different. I think there is more awareness and open discussion. You can’t solve a problem unless you acknowledge that it exists. I think to that extent we have made progress. People are at least talking. No real change happens without that. I think we’re on the road to very important change. I also think it’s important that this has become a movement and not just a moment. If people say, ‘oh isn’t he terrible’ and then scurry away, we avoid the issue. If we assign it to all one monstrous person, we don’t see that this is just the tip of the iceberg. In Hollywood I have seen some differences with efforts to get female directors and on my own pilot for ABC, we actually hired female producers, directors and although it was quite unique, it’s a positive sign. I hope it really is all changing. It could all fly back again, but there is a reason to hope.
Watch new episodes on Crime and Investgation - BT channel 328 - Tuesdays at 9pm.
Crime and Investigation is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as E!, Comedy Central, National Geographic and many more.
Photo Credit: A+E Networks/Rex/Shutterstock