Marcia Clark started her career as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorney in 1981. She worked countless cases during her career, including the 1991 trial of Robert John Bardo, who was convicted of murdering actress Rebecca Schaeffer. Clark took on her most infamous trial in 1995 when she worked on the prosecution of O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Not long after the trial ended, Clark moved to a career as a legal analyst and author. Her books include the 1997 memoir Without a Doubt and the 2014 crime drama The Competition.
Early Life and Education
The eldest of two children, Marcia Clark was born on August 31, 1953, in Berkeley, California. Her father, an Israeli immigrant, worked as a chemist for the Food and Drug Administration, and he relocated the family numerous times for his job. Studying hard in school was a priority in her home, as was taking Hebrew lessons, but Clark also enjoyed the arts growing up, taking dance and drama and piano classes.
Clark first attended University of California Riverside before transferring to University of California Los Angeles where she majored in political science. After graduating from UCLA in 1976, she found work in a law office. Clark soon enrolled at Southwestern University School of Law, where she earned her degree in 1979.
In 1981, Clark went to work for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. She excelled at her work, winning convictions in various criminal cases. Clark began to accrue an impressive track record handling murder cases as well. In 1991, she made headlines when she put Robert John Bardo behind bars for life after proving that he stalked and killed the young television actress Rebecca Schaeffer. Three years later, Clark was tapped as lead prosecutor, joining Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden and the team working on the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The pair were killed outside of Simpson’s Brentwood home in June 1994.
Nicole’s ex-husband O.J. Simpson was soon charged with the two homicides, and Clark led the prosecution in the People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson. Simpson’s fame as an athlete and actor placed the case—and many of its participants—in the media spotlight. Clark even found her own personal life being discussed in the news. Simpson lined up what news reporters labeled a “Dream Team” of lawyers to defend him, including Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, F. Lee Bailey and Robert Shapiro. Clark, as she later explained to the Guardian newspaper, felt early on that the deck was stacked against the prosecution. “I could feel justice being subverted before we started picking a jury. I could feel the trial turning into a circus.”
Press coverage of the trial, which began in January 1995 and was televised, remained constant over the next 10 months. Clark, along with her colleagues, tried to make the case that Simpson had killed his ex-wife and Goldman. However, the prosecution's legal strategy was hampered by one of their own witnesses, Detective Mark Fuhrman, who was shown to be a liar and a racist. In her closing argument, Clark asked the jurors to put aside their disdain for Fuhrman and focus on the evidence.
The jury acquitted Simpson on October 3, 1995. Losing the case hit Clark hard, and she later wrote in her memoir that “There was enough physical evidence in this case to convict O.J. Simpson twenty times over.” Her heart also went out to the victims’ families “for the way that the system failed them.”
Life After the O.J. Trial
Clark wrote a memoir about the infamous Simpson trial, Without a Doubt, with Teresa Carpenter. The book, which she reportedly received millions to write, quickly became a best seller when it was published in 1997. Clark was also in demand as a legal commentator, working for media outlets such as NBC, CNBC and Fox.
In recent years, Clark has enjoyed another wave of success as a novelist. She launched her new career with the 2011 crime drama Guilt by Association, which featured Clark’s literary alter ego, Los Angeles District Attorney Rachel Knight. Three others followed: Guilt By Degrees (2012), Killer Ambition (2013) and The Competition (2014). Her latest novel, Blood Defense, featured a new lead character, was published in 2016 and garnered praise from the likes of James Patterson, among others.
Clark has two sons from her second marriage, to Gordon Clark. She was previously married to professional backgammon player Gabriel “Gaby” Horowitz.
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