23 Years After the O.J. Simpson Trial, Marcia Clark is Proof That Staying Positive Works
My life is so different now from what it was in the ’90s.
As a prosecutor, I got up every morning and went to court. That’s what I did. I thought I was going to do that job forever, but the day the jury returned its verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial, I walked out of the D.A.’s office and never went back. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
In the aftermath of the trial, all I wanted to do was crawl into a hole and never come out again. But I couldn’t afford to do that. I had a family to support. And I still wanted to live a purposeful life and contribute somehow. I said to myself, “You might not feel like standing up right now, but you’ve got to set wheels in motion.” The question was which wheels?
I started with the first opportunity that presented itself: to write a book about the trial. I had always loved the idea of writing but never had the guts to go for it until then. Next came speaking engagements, TV commentary, and hosting cable-news talk shows. All of it was so foreign to me. It felt as if I were stepping off a cliff into the unknown every day. Although it was exciting to explore new opportunities, it was also scary at times. But I knew that if I wanted a new life, I had to conquer my fear and embrace the challenge of something different.
I had fun hosting and doing commentary for cable talk shows, but what I really wanted to do was write novels and scripted shows for television. Still, there was a part of me that missed the law. So I began doing criminal appellate work — court-appointed cases for convicted felons who couldn’t afford a lawyer. It’s mainly researching and writing briefs with very few court appearances, so it gave me the flexible schedule I needed to work on my other writing.
Eventually, in 2002, I did get to start writing scripts, and in 2010, I published my first series of novels, featuring — what else? — a female prosecutor named Rachel Knight. They say to write what you know. But it was more than that. You can tell a lot of truth under the guise of fiction. And that’s what I tried to do in my novels. I’ve written about women who are criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors, and detectives, and in all of them I tried to show what women in those professions have to deal with — the sexist behavior, the misogyny, the inequalities — but I do it with a smile.
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A sense of humor is important, especially now that we’re bombarded by news on multiple platforms. I suppose the Simpson trial kicked off this type of 24-hour news cycle, which is both good and bad. It’s good that we have the opportunity to stay informed and be kept up to speed but bad because news teams are constantly under pressure to find content. That can lead to careless reporting just to fill the void.
That happened a lot during the Simpson trial. In the race to get the “scoop,” the media would blast out stories without regard for the reliability of their sources. That’s my biggest concern with what’s going on today. I read news from various outlets to hear from a range of voices, not just one. I think the truth usually lies in the balance.
But I also will take a break from it all, turn off the computer, look up at the sky, breathe in the air, and remember to be grateful for all the good things in life. The news is invariably about what went wrong, how people got hurt, or how they hurt each other. It’s important to remember that things do go right and people often do the right thing. That reminder is what gets me through the hard times.
Not every day will be sunny, but it’s also necessary to know when to move on and let things go. Pain is inevitable, but misery is a choice. When I go through a difficult period, I don’t try to avoid it. I just remind myself that this too shall pass. And whenever possible, I try to find a way to laugh.
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