Ep. 11 (Dessert) Marcia Clark

January 21, 2013

Famed prosecutor, and The Dinner Party Show’s resident legal expert, Marcia Clark drops by to provide Christopher with expert council about his “urgent” legal problem. Another installment of our ongoing PSA series, Best Served Warm, this time featuring Jordan Ampersand.

When the person is pointing a gun in your face, you are not studying the gun. If you’re smart, you’re studying the face of the person holding the gun, because that’s tell you whether you’re going to get shot.


The Dinner Party Show Podcast — Ep. 11 (Dessert)
Marcia Clark Interview Transcript

{This transcript is the Marcia Clark interview portion of Episode 11}
{This transcript is provided as a courtesy and was transcribed as best as possible. Any errors or omissions in the transcript are unintentional. The recorded audio file of the podcast episode is considered the master of what was said.}

Christopher Rice: We were joined earlier by-

Eric Shaw Quinn: During the practical demonstration.

Christopher Rice: …Ronnie Kroell and Elliot London. They were talking about the Friend movement, which is an anti-bullying campaign, and a multi-fold anti-bullying campaign. But now, as we have been teasing all evening—

Eric Shaw Quinn: It’s surprise guest.

Christopher Rice:

… it’s surprise guest. I went to push a hotkey and it was all the wrong ones. We have been talking about my very serious legal problem. Very serious. I’ve been dealing with this issue for weeks now.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Sorry, say that again?

Christopher Rice: Ever since I received something in the mail.

Eric Shaw Quinn: This surprise is Marcia, it’s not…

Christopher Rice: So we’ve brought in…

Eric Shaw Quinn: …it’s not yours.

Christopher Rice: …the legal expert of all legal experts…

Eric Shaw Quinn: Surprise, Marcia.

Christopher Rice: …our resident legal expert…

Eric Shaw Quinn:

We want free legal consult.

Christopher Rice: …Marcia Clark is here.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Surprise.

Christopher Rice: Marcia—

Marcia Clark: Hey.

Christopher Rice: …I have jury duty.

Marcia Clark: Ohhhhh.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Oh.

Christopher Rice: Oh. No.

Marcia Clark: You said it’s like the plague.

Christopher Rice: What do I do?

Marcia Clark: What have you done to have jury duty?

Eric Shaw Quinn: Now, that is serious. That is serious.

Marcia Clark: Take two aspirin.

Christopher Rice: Speaking of someone who has some experience with juries, what should I do to get out of jury duty, that’s legal and ethical, that doesn’t involve just lying?

Marcia Clark: You put all these constraints, now I can’t.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Oh, well if you’re gonna be…

Marcia Clark: All these conditions. “Ooh, now we can’t lie. Ooh.” You’d be the only one. But fine, if you want to be ethical about it, just tell the truth. But that may not work. I mean, if you walk into the courtroom and they say, okay, “We’re going to have you on this case where it’s an assault with a deadly weapon, and a guy beat up some other guy, and can you be fair?” And if you really can be fair and you say, “Yes,” then you’re probably going to get stuck there.

Christopher Rice: Right, and that’s the thing. And that’s where people start to perform, right? They’ll be like, “Well, one time I saw a guy get really angry and it upset me. And so this trial I’ll be biased, and I have to get back to work.” And do lawyers even buy into that, or do they pay attention? They’re like, “Okay, just …” Because we have a friend who worked for the, I believe it was the public defender’s office, who said with DUI cases, everybody had had some DUI story that they began vomiting out during voir dire. Is it called voir dire?

Marcia Clark: Yep. Very good.

Christopher Rice: Yeah. And his attitude was like, “All right, just shut up. I won’t pick you.” But is that an accurate view into the lawyer’s head?

Marcia Clark: Yeah. Happens all the time. And you have people, especially when it is something like DUI, where it is a common experience. Everybody’s had a drink and driven. And at one point … Or, “Everybody,” I shouldn’t say, “Everybody.” Not me, I never have.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Ever, ever.

Eric Shaw Quinn: No one here, of course.

Marcia Clark: And I know you guys haven’t either.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Absolutely not.

Marcia Clark: Okay.

Christopher Rice: Never, never.

Marcia Clark: We’re going to do it right after this … Anyway.

Marcia Clark: But—

Christopher Rice: I walked.

Marcia Clark: But everybody … I hitch-hiked.

Eric Shaw Quinn: For just that reason.

Marcia Clark: That’s why it took me three hours to get here. Man, I’ll tell you. People are brutal in West Hollywood.

Eric Shaw Quinn: It’s a haul. Long way.

Marcia Clark: But I think when it comes to those kind of crimes, everybody kind of, “There but for fortune go I,” and it gets harder to find jurors. But when you talk about something like murder, I mean, may have, most people haven’t committed murder who are going to be in the jury pool.

Eric Shaw Quinn: And if they are, they’re probably not going to admit it, even during voir dire to get out of—

Christopher Rice: Really.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Unlikely just to get out of jury duty.

Marcia Clark: Unlikely. Although it happened to me that-

Eric Shaw Quinn: Did it?

Marcia Clark: Oh yeah, because-

Eric Shaw Quinn: “I killed somebody, so I probably wouldn’t be a good judge.”

Marcia Clark: Yeah. Which I thought was—

Eric Shaw Quinn: In the voir dire, they answered the lawyer-

Marcia Clark: Answered. As a matter of fact…

Eric Shaw Quinn: Did you arrest them as they were leaving the…

Marcia Clark: Well, I didn’t.

Eric Shaw Quinn: “Follow him.”

Marcia Clark: I did not.

Christopher Rice: You did not personally arrest him.

Marcia Clark: But I mean, no, they said, “I was investigated,” or, “My brother was investigated.”

I had one guy write down that, “I could be fair in this trial. Of course, the DA’s office unfairly investigated me for arson, the Malibu fires.”

Christopher Rice: Oh dear.

Marcia Clark: Yeah, yeah. “And they were awful. And they were Hitler, and they were this and that. But I can be fair.” So I was a little skeptical of that. But if you tell the truth about how you feel, especially the more heinous the crime, the less likely you are to actually have a personal investment, or a personal experience that makes you biased. Then what?

Christopher Rice: Right. But okay, I’ve been in twice now, and I feel like everybody, like the judges and the lawyers, are all hip to the fact that nobody wants to be there. And so they’re a little cynical about—

Marcia Clark: Absolutely. Yes.

Christopher Rice: They’re like, “You’ll be fine. You’ll get over it.”

Marcia Clark: Yes. They do. And they do. And they’ll push you, and they push you and push you. “Are you sure you can be fair? I really think you can. I really think you can.” And at some point, most of the jurors will cave in and say, “Yeah, I can be fair.” And then it’s up to the lawyers, whether or not.

Eric Shaw Quinn: My best defense has always been telling the truth. They find out what my experience is and who I am, and they’re like, “Yeah, could you get out, please? Could you?” Yeah.

Marcia Clark: “Would you leave now, leave now”

Eric Shaw Quinn: “Get your things and get out of the courtroom.”

Christopher Rice: What parts of your experience would those be?

Eric Shaw Quinn: Well, I’ll tell you, my favorite was the time that I went in and they asked, “Have you ever been the victim of a violent crime?” And I said, “Yes.” And they said, “Well, could you explain?” And I said, “You want me to tell you about all of them?” And they were like, “Okay.”

Marcia Clark: All of them.

Eric Shaw Quinn: So then I began talking, “Well, I was robbed at gunpoint and I was mugged, and I had somebody break in the house with a …” This whole list of things. And there was this stunned silence when I got done at, with the end of what turned out to be quite a lengthy explanation. I’d never really done it all back to back before. And the judge looked at me and went, “Is that all?” And I said, “Well, I certainly hope so.” And they were like—

Marcia Clark: And the defense attorney probably bounced you out of there so fast.

Eric Shaw Quinn: They were like, “Thank you so much for coming by this afternoon Mr. Quinn.”

Marcia Clark: Yes, “We’d like to thank and excuse.”

Eric Shaw Quinn: “If you would like to get out of the building as fast as you can, now would be great with us.” But yeah, it was the whole … I remember them asking me something about the gun, “Did you know what kind of gun it was?” when somebody was pointing a gun. And I was like, “You’re really not paying attention to that. It’s like, that’s not what you’re paying attention to in the moment when somebody’s pointing a gun at you.”

Marcia Clark: Well, no. And that’s what the eyewitness identification experts are always saying, the weapons focus. When the person is pointing a gun in your face, you are not studying the gun. If you’re smart, you’re studying the face of the person holding the gun, because that’s tell you whether you’re going to get shot.

Eric Shaw Quinn: But to be fair, you’re also not studying that either.

Marcia Clark: No, you’re a mess…

Eric Shaw Quinn: You’re trying to remain standing and-

Marcia Clark: Yes, keep breathing.

Eric Shaw Quinn: To breathe and pay attention to the instructions, so they don’t shoot you. But yeah.

Marcia Clark: But to get back to your problem Chris, you know, your quote, unquote problem?

Christopher Rice: My legal issue, yes.

Marcia Clark: Your legal issue, that’s what it is. You could also get out of jury duty by talking about who your friends are, for example, me.

Christopher Rice: That’s what I was going to ask you I said, “Well, my very good friend, I don’t know if you’ve heard of her, Marcia Clark?”

Marcia Clark: I’m Typhoid Mary.

Christopher Rice: Yeah, she was involved in a very high profile … And we talk about, and I share all of her opinions on everything.

Marcia Clark:

See, there you go. Boom, you’re out.

Eric Shaw Quinn:

Yeah. And I would throw in that she was just a guest on your radio show.

Christopher Rice:

On my radio show, where I will share my opinions of this trial once I’m released.

Marcia Clark: Oh yeah. Okay. See, right. I mean, yeah, you just hit on both.

Eric Shaw Quinn: You See? That’s what I mean—

Marcia Clark: That’s a double whammy.

Eric Shaw Quinn: …you just tell the truth. Once they find out who you are—

Marcia Clark: Right. Not only do they not—

Christopher Rice: But do they really…But if you’re … You always think you’re going to get called up for the OJ case, but then you get in, the one courtroom I ever really had to go in and it was like, this man was maybe seen with his pants down at this cafe and this… And you’re like, “Oh, this isn’t even going to be interesting.” The worst one was Nevada Light and Power versus some big insurance company. And I remember the attitude I copped with all of them, because they wanted me to be an alternate, and it was going to be a three month trial.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Oh my God.

Marcia Clark: Oh, that’s hell. That’s hell.

Christopher Rice: And I was like, “I don’t know. This may be a civil suit. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I don’t know anything about the insurance industry. I don’t believe that citizens should be deciding these.” And you could just see the judge getting sick of me as I was going on. Because I was under deadline for my novel Blind Fall. And I was stuck there, or I was fearing that I was going to be stuck there. But they let me go.

Eric Shaw Quinn: But three months.

Marcia Clark: Thank God they let you go, because three months as an alternate, I mean, talk about … It’s a third person on a blind date, or whatever. You don’t even get to deliberate. “Get to,” as though that’s some big gift.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Woo-hoo. Deliberation, man.

Marcia Clark: You’ve got friends in weird places, and you also have … It’ll work. You have the radio show, “I’m out all, y’all.”

Christopher Rice: Right. Yeah, I won’t out all y’all.

Marcia Clark: “Going to get on my show. By the way, and while you’re at it, would you spell all your names?”

Christopher Rice:

Yeah, absolutely. And I’m writing them.

Eric Shaw Quinn: But I would also like to say on the flip side, being a juror, while I’m not crazy about, I would like them to reform the way they treat jurors. I think there should be a nice comfortable room with snacks. They’re getting better.

Marcia Clark: They need craft services.

Eric Shaw Quinn: They actually have wifi and whatever. That one courthouse that’s way downtown, they just need to close. That thing’s just gross and scary.

Christopher Rice: Yeah, that is a scary courthouse.

Marcia Clark: Yeah.

Eric Shaw Quinn: But yeah, I’ve been asked to sit on the marble floor out in the hall for an hour, while they do a motion or whatever.

Marcia Clark: Oh my God.

Eric Shaw Quinn: That I’m not crazy about. But the actual act of being a juror isn’t so bad.

Christopher Rice: Right.

Eric Shaw Quinn: I remember I got to—

Marcia Clark: You mean somebody actually let you be on a jury?

Eric Shaw Quinn: I was actually on a jury once when I was still working. Right?

Marcia Clark: How did you slip through?

Christopher Rice: After they heard the inventory?

Marcia Clark: Yeah.

Eric Shaw Quinn: The two juries I managed to get on, the defendant didn’t show up for one. That was a long time ago. And they just went, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12. You’re the jury.” Because there was nobody there to question, and so they …

And I will say they did a really good job of being fair to the person who wasn’t there to defend himself, because he had been arrested in this really bad part of town. And I wanted to know what he was arrested for, but that wasn’t what he was being tried for. He was in possession, they thought with intent to distribute 102 pre-rolled joints. Which I was like, “Waa, waa.”

Marcia Clark: Yeah.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Which didn’t add up to an ounce of dope, which I was like, “Really? Those were some pinwheels, man.”

Marcia Clark: That’s a really cheap ass.

Eric Shaw Quinn: That’s a cheap joint. And then the other one was a civil suit, and I guess they decided, I was still working at USC at the time, and I guess they decided I was … I can’t remember how I ended up … I blacked out and when I came to, I was on that jury. I don’t know.

Christopher Rice: That’s an eighties comedy right there. The blackout jury.

Eric Shaw Quinn: That was the one where I sent a note to the judge, as a juror, that said, “Would it be possible to charge the lawyers with anything?” And she wrote me back and said, “Sadly, no.” At least she’s in my court.

Marcia Clark: [inaudible] feel that way. Yeah.

Christopher Rice: Well, I’m glad we’ve all come together over this national tragedy known as my jury duty summons. Are you all aware of this online video orientation they make you do now, which takes about an hour? It’s about four different videos.

Eric Shaw Quinn: I did it the last time.

Christopher Rice: It’s hilarious. It allows you to go in later. But literally I couldn’t … I wanted to pause it so I could do screen captures for Twitter and Facebook, but I couldn’t because it won’t let you pause it. But they show someone dressed inappropriately. And she’s like in sandals and a halter top that says, “Guilty,” and big shorts that are not the right size for her.

And then it says, because everything is subtitled, kind of like an episode of Honey Boo Boo, and there’s literally a line that was on the screen that said, “Many jurors remain in touch with one another after their service…”

Eric Shaw Quinn: That does not happen. That’s actually …

Marcia Clark: That would be the one that you would of course.

Eric Shaw Quinn: That’s a threat.

Christopher Rice: I don’t mean to be cynical.

Marcia Clark: You can get a tank top that says, “Not guilty,” and you balance out the universe.

Christopher Rice: Absolutely.

Eric Shaw Quinn: “I’m with guilty.”

Marcia Clark: “I’m with guilty.”

Eric Shaw Quinn: “I’m with guilty.”

Christopher Rice: Or, “Guilt free. Guilt free.” Well, we want to remind our listeners that you have several books for sale, and they’re available in our store.

Marcia Clark: Yay.

Christopher Rice: Yay.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Yay.

Christopher Rice: So if you go to thedinnerpartyshow.com and click on our store page, you will find, I believe we have the second in your Rachel Knight series.

Marcia Clark: Guilt By Degrees.

Christopher Rice: Guilt by Degrees is in there. And so you, do you miss practicing law at all? Do you miss the courtroom?

Marcia Clark: I’m still practicing. Do I miss the courtroom? No, not anymore. I did for a while. At first, when I left the office, it was very weird not to get up and go to court every day. That was my life. But I have to say, it was kind of time for a change. The kids were really young. It was good to be able to be home with my sons, and have the time to really be a mom, kind of, for a little bit.

And I still continued to miss it. And so when I started covering the cases for Entertainment Tonight, I wound up sitting in the jury box next to all these reporters and stuff, the same ones who were covering the Simpson case. It was very awkward for some of us because I was not in love with all of them, as you can imagine. Talk about … Yeah.

Eric Shaw Quinn: I would bet. Yeah.

Marcia Clark: We were talking about fair comment, but they had a lot of comments. And so—

Eric Shaw Quinn: And some of them were just like, “Her hair.” Really?

Marcia Clark: Yeah. That’s what I mean.

Eric Shaw Quinn: You think that’s something you want to talk about?

Marcia Clark: Exactly.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Yeah. It was disgraceful.

Marcia Clark: Criticize the closing argument, whatever, but my hair… Anyway. But sitting there and watching the DAs actually do their thing, and for a while I really was like, “God, I want to go back there. I want to be back in the mix.” And then I kind of got over it, and then I wound up practicing appellate law, which is all writing. You don’t go to court really, except for a very rare oral argument. And I really like that because it keeps my hand in, and it keeps the stories fresh, and I’m staying abreast of how things are still being tried in the courtroom.

Eric Shaw Quinn: And it’s very cutting edge in the law.

Marcia Clark: In some respects. As far as appellate law goes, yeah, you really have to be on top of the law. But it’s nice because you read trial transcripts, so I know what’s happening in courtrooms today. So when I deliver it in the books, like Guilt by Degrees, and I have a short story coming out called Trouble in Paradise, which is a rip on Honey Boo Boo.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Oh, is it? Oh good.

Christopher Rice: You’re taking on reality television culture?

Eric Shaw Quinn: Excellent.

Marcia Clark: Absolutely. I mean, because we can’t resist.

Christopher Rice: Why not?

Eric Shaw Quinn: Very good.

Marcia Clark: Because I write it’s fair game.

Christopher Rice: Absolutely.

Marcia Clark: And then Killer Ambition comes out in June, and the book Killer Ambition actually takes…they go to trial, and that one’s based in Hollywood and it’s a director and all that stuff.

Christopher Rice: Mm-hmm. Excellent.

Marcia Clark: But I can deliver the experience of actually reading trial transcripts and what goes on in courtrooms today, so it’s current. And so that’s worth it. And I don’t miss going to court anymore.

Christopher Rice: You don’t?

Marcia Clark: No.

Eric Shaw Quinn: How does court, as you’ve experienced it actually in court, and as you know it to be compare to the way that we depict court on…I notice somebody has posted a video of maybe Nuts, I think that’s … is that from Nuts, Caleb? Anyway? I’m guessing, it’s Barbra Streisand on trial. But how does the way that we depict in movies and on television, the court experience, compare to the actuality of court?

Marcia Clark: It’s always a parody in its own way, even if it doesn’t mean to be. And it’s got to be truncated, obviously. It’s got to be so much shorter. So you don’t get to show all of the kinds of interplay that happens.

I think what you miss on television is the interplay that’s very subtle between the glances between the prosecution and defense. I’ll know that I’m coming up to a question on cross-examination that is going to hurt the defense, and I’m going to be watching them to see if they’re being a little inattentive, so that I can get through most of the questions before we get the objection. Things, you miss the subtleties of that kind of thing.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Is there anybody who does a particularly good job of capturing it, do you think?

Marcia Clark: The best I ever saw was Law and Order, the original series.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Really?

Christopher Rice: Really? Wow.

Marcia Clark: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They really … Not just what happens in the courtroom, although they did that well, but also the way cases get processed through the system, the way they get investigated, and then they go to the DA. The most accurate.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Right. The procedural aspect of—

Marcia Clark: They really have it right. They really did.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Wow. Well now, that’s a surprise. So Perry Mason, really not on the scale at all?

Marcia Clark: Perry Mason and the DA was always a dork.

Christopher Rice: Right!

Marcia Clark: Hamburger.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Hamburger.

Marcia Clark: They called him Hamburger. How much worse does it get than that, right?

Christopher Rice: Right?

Eric Shaw Quinn: It’s pretty bad, yeah.

Christopher Rice: Absolutely.

Marcia Clark: “Hi, my name’s Chopped Liver. I’ll be your prosecutor.” So yeah, no, it’s not generally realistic.

I’m actually hoping that somebody will try to go back to doing it and doing it the real way. Because it’s more interesting, the more you get it right with these kind of procedurals, whether it’s law, or medical, or whatever it is on television, the more authentic you are, I think the more interesting you are.

And people can feel it, even if they don’t know, they may not know it exactly what feels wrong or what feels off, but they’ll have a sense of something that has authenticity. I think that’s true in books too. Right? Chris, I mean, you write about stuff that you have either researched very well or experienced. Because when I read your stuff, it feels like I’m there. It feels like you’re there. It feels real. And even though I know it’s fiction, the real feeling underneath it, is what gives it more excitement, you know? Right.

Christopher Rice: Mm-hmm. Absolutely.

Marcia Clark: Right.

Christopher Rice: It gives you the ability to make choices if you know your world. You can tell when a writer’s only researched along one very narrow track. And to give it back to you before we say goodbye to you for the evening, it’s not always easy to have all the information and still tell a good story. A lot of procedurals are very stiff and dull, but you know how to do both, which is why I loved reading your books.

Marcia Clark: Thank you so much.

Christopher Rice: And Marcia, thank you for being with us.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Which we love to encourage people to do.

Marcia Clark: Can we mention your books? I mean, do you-

Christopher Rice: Sure. Oh, I mention my books all the time. Don’t worry.

Marcia Clark: Okay, good.

Christopher Rice: We mention Eric’s book all the time.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Both of their books as well as mine are available on the store page of thedinnerpartyshow.com.

Marcia Clark: Good. Yay!

Christopher Rice:

All the store page. And if you support our affiliates, you are supporting the show as well.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Which we very much appreciate. Also subscribe to the show on iTunes.

Christopher Rice: Absolutely.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Also a good support.

Christopher Rice: Marcia, thank you so much for filling in.

Marcia Clark: Thank you. It was my pleasure. Always nice to see you guys.

Christopher Rice: It was great to have you back. It was a great excuse.

Marcia Clark: Love you two much.

Eric Shaw Quinn: Thanks for being the surprised guest.

Christopher Rice: And now we have another installment of our PSA series, Best Served Warm.

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