The People of the State of California, Plaintiff, Versus Mark Fuhrman, Defendant

  • Original Charge: Count I, Violation of Penal Code section 118 (a felony)
  • Conviction: One Count — Count I of Information — of Penal Code sec 118
  • Date of Offense: On or about March 15, 1995
  • Guilty by: Plea of nolo contendre
  • Date: 10/2/96
  • Judge: Ouderkirk
  • Actual Time in Custody: 0 days

No. BA 109275

Personal History In Lieu Of Probation Report

  • Hearing: 10/2/96 at 9 a.m., Dept. 109
  • Bail: O.R.

Negotiated Plea

Under the People v. West plea, the defendant pled no contest with an understanding of the following requirements:

  • No jail time
  • Three years of probation
  • Probation supervision in the defendant's current state of residence
  • The minimum restitution fine
  • The single term of probation in which the defendant must violate no laws
  • An entry of a plea of nolo contendere

The defendant entered a waiver pursuant to People v. Harvey.

  • Co-Defendants: None
  • Attorney: Darryl Mounger

Personal History

  • Legal Name: Mark Fuhrman A.K.A.: None
  • Age: 44
  • Date of Birth: February 5, 1952
  • Birthplace: Tacoma, Washington
  • Race/Ethnicity: White
  • Citizenship: United States of America
  • Date Arrived in L.A. County: 1975
  • Date Arrived in State: 1970
  • Sex: M
  • Height: 6'2
  • Weight: 205
  • Hair: Brown
  • Eyes: Brown
  • Education: High School and approximately two years of college
  • Military Service: U. S. Marine Corps (1970-1975)
  • Type of Discharge: Honorable
  • Health/Handicaps: None known
  • Alcohol/Drug Use: No drugs. Non-abusive occasional alcohol consumption.

Criminal History

  • Present Requesting Agency: California Department of Justice
  • Date: 10/2/96, Surrendered
  • No Criminal Record

Circumstances of the Offense

The defendant was one of the two detectives originally assigned to investigate the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. He arrived at the crime scene located on Bundy Drive in Brentwood in the early morning hours of June 12, 1994. Upon arrival, the defendant began his investigation.

Within an hour of his arrival, the defendant was notified that two more senior detectives had been assigned responsibility for the case.

When the two senior detectives arrived, they requested that the defendant accompany them to the house of the deceased woman's husband. At this second location, Rockingham Drive, the defendant made several evidentiary discoveries which eventually led to the arrest of O.J. Simpson — the former husband of the deceased woman.

In July 1994, the defendant appeared as a witness for the prosecution in the preliminary hearing of the homicide case against Simpson.

The defendant was called as a prosecution witness in the homicide trial of People v. Simpson (Los Angeles Superior Court No. BA 097211) in March 1995. He was cross-examined on March 14 and 15, 1995. On March 15, 1995, the defendant was asked the following questions by the cross-examiner and gave the following answers:

Q. "I will rephrase it. I want you to assume that perhaps at sometime since 1985 or 6, you addressed a member of the African American race as a n****r. Is it possible that you have forgotten that act on your part?"

A. "No, it is not possible."

Q. "Are you therefore saying that you have not used that word in the past ten years, Detective Fuhrman?"

A. "Yes, that is what I'm saying."

Q. "And you say under oath that you have not addressed any black person as a n****r or spoken about black people as n****s in the past ten years, Detective Fuhrman."

A. "That's what I'm saying, sir."

Q. "So that anyone who comes to this court and quotes you as using that word in dealing with African Americans would be a liar, would they not, Detective Fuhrman?"

A. "Yes, they would."

Q. "All of them, correct."

A. "All of them."

(Source: People v. Simpson, Vol. 107, page 18899)

On September 5, 1995, Laura Hart McKinny testified. In her testimony, she laid the foundation for two tape-recorded excerpts that, in the defendant's own statements as recorded, impeached the defendant's denial of any use of the racial epithet during the 10-year period. She also testified that the defendant had used the epithet in non-recorded conversations during the 10-year period.

Three other witnesses — Kathleen Bell, Natalie Singer, and Roderick Hodge — testified to instances of the defendant's use of the racial epithet within the 10-year period.

On September 6, 1995, the defendant was recalled to the witness stand as a defense witness. Out of the presence of the trial jury, the defendant asserted his constitutional right not to incriminate himself.

The Defendant's Statement

Through his attorney, the defendant stated that he is entering a People v. West plea because he believes it is in his best interest to do so. The defendant deeply regrets the effect that his testimony has had on the general public, the Los Angeles Police Department and its employees, and his family.

Sentencing Considerations

Violation of Penal Code section 118 is a felony punishable by a term of two, three, or four years in prison. A person convicted of the offense is eligible for probation and may be supervised out of state pursuant to the interstate compact.

Criteria Affecting Probation [Rule of Court 414]

Crime-Related Facts: Seriousness as compared to other instances of the same crime.

While perjury is always a serious offense, it is rare that a witness who has given testimony is prosecuted for that perjury. When there is a prosecution, the usual case involves a situation in which the witness has given false testimony about an event related to the crime or provided a false alibi.

Here, there was no evidence that the defendant gave any false testimony about his investigative efforts. The false testimony related to his personal use of a racial epithet during a time period that pre-dated the criminal investigation.

An argument can be made that this type of perjury is less serious than giving false testimony about the investigation because:

  • No weapon was involved.
  • No individual victim was involved.
  • No injury was inflicted on any person.
  • There was no individual who suffered monetary loss.
  • Defendant was an active participant in the crime.
  • There are unique circumstances in the commission of the offense.
  • No criminal sophistication was demonstrated.
  • The defendant did take advantage of a position of trust and confidence in the commission of the offense.

Defendant-Related Facts:

  • The defendant had no prior criminal record.
  • The defendant has never before been placed on parole or probation.
  • The defendant was willing to comply with the terms and conditions of probation.
  • The defendant could comply with the terms of probation.
  • Imprisonment would create a financial hardship on the defendant's dependents. Because of his background as a police officer, the defendant would be at risk in prison. There was no evidence that the defendant needs to be incarcerated to deter him from future similar criminal conduct.
  • The defendant's primary adult employment was as a peace officer. One result of this conviction is that the defendant is precluded from ever again being a peace officer in California per Government Code, Section 1029. The high profile that resulted from the events surrounding the crime as well as the news focus that the conviction created would make it difficult for the defendant to find employment at any professional level.
  • The remarks of the defendant as reported by his counsel indicated remorse.
  • The defendant presented no danger to others.

It appeared that the defendant was an appropriate candidate for probation.

Circumstances in Aggravation [Rule Of Court 421]

The factors which appeared to be circumstances in aggravation included:

  • Rule 421(a)(6): The defendant's perjury illegally interfered with the judicial process.
  • Rule 421 (a)(11): The defendant took advantage of a position of trust.

Circumstances in Mitigation [Rule Of Court 423]

The factors which appeared to be circumstances in mitigation included:

  • Rule 423(a)(6): There was no physical harm to any persons or property.
  • Rule 423 (b)(1): The defendant had no prior criminal record.
  • Rule 423(b)(3): The defendant voluntarily acknowledged wrongdoing at an early stage of the criminal process.