When I first became involved in the Shively question it immediately occurred to me that her reputation had been professionally smeared, and I could see a very clear motive why that might have been done. Early in the case, there was an allegation that the defense would vigorously attack what was then the single most important witness, Mark Fuhrman. (Writer/legal analyst Jeff Toobin wrote an expose in "New Yorker" magazine to that effect in July, 1994.) As events unfolded, the defense did exactly that, and the resulting debate over Fuhrman became one of the most influential parts of later discussion. They did this by exploiting his vanity in court about the "N-word," but more importantly by exposing his prior intemperate remarks. They so skillfully ruined his reputation that he was later indicted for
It seemed to me that Jill Shively represented an even more damning witness, since she positively identified Simpson as being near the Bundy crime scene, and apparently fleeing toward his home in the interval in which the crimes were believed to have been committed. (Much better than evidence of a dirty old glove.) And so, I conjectured that the defense would have tried to discredit her, and thereby remove her as a credible threat to O.J. Simpson. In fact, Shively was discredited, but unlike the Fuhrman matter, the defense attorneys have taken no credit for this.
HOW IT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE: Now that I realize how easily a paper trail can be followed through court documents, I see that there is a mechanism whereby aggressive defense attorneys could have destroyed Shively. This is my conjecture:
The crimes were committed late on the evening of June 12th. Shively made her report to Vannatter on Wednesday, June 15th. Marcia Clark (p. 33) tells us about Vannatter's office work environment: "The Robbery/Homicide Division bullpen was a large room with about twenty
desks facing each other in two rows. Consequently, the homicide team that worked on the LAPD's most sensitive cases had absolutely no privacy. Their notes and reports were in plain view of any clerk wandering through -- it was Leak City." This does not surprise us, since we saw for ourselves that enterprising newsmen seemed to be interviewing witnesses as soon as the police left. In Shively's specific case, Jeff Toobin tells us, "By Sunday, June 19th, her name had leaked out as a witness and reporters were banging on her apartment door." (Jill herself tells us that the media greeted her at her door when she came home from work on Tuesday evening, even before she had talked to Vannatter.) And, we know that Simpson's attorney, Robert Shapiro, was well connected in the LAPD by the fact that Simpson had been free during the first week largely on Shapiro's personal assurance that he would appear when ordered. Shapiro was likely to have had an even better node on the LAPD grapevine than the newsmen.
So, it is not far-fetched to think that Shapiro's full-time investigator, Bill
Pavlick, could have known by the night of June 15th that there was a person named "Jill Shively," living in Santa Monica, who claimed to have seen Simpson fleeing in the vicinity of the crime at about 10:45 on the night of the crime. Such a claim would, of course, be greatly alarming to Shapiro. Even though he could not know at that early moment what to make of the claim, he could take the first steps to interdict it. He could send Pavlick on the morning of June 16th to the main courthouse. There, Pavlick could determine whether "Jill Shively" had ever been named in a civil action in L.A. County as a plaintiff or defendant. (If he knew Jill's birthdate or Driver's License number from the police report, he could also go up the street to the Criminal Courts Building and check on her criminal status.) A check of the civil records would show that 15 months earlier Shively had been the defendant in a civil action in the Burbank branch of the L.A. court system.
After driving to Burbank on the afternoon of June 16th, Pavlick could have pulled the file on that action, and seen the application that Clarke had filed on March 1, 1993. He could also get Clarke's address and phone number from that same document, and determine that co-plaintiff, Kathy Johnson, lived at the same address. By the night of June 16th Pavlick could have been in a position to contact Brian Patrick Clarke, if he had wished to. Such contact would probably have much interested Clarke, since he was a third-level actor, and such people are always interested in publicity. At the time, the Simpson case was the hottest ticket in town -- indeed, in the world. If Pavlick talked to Clarke, it would be immediately obvious to Clarke that his role in the situation was to discredit Shively, and considering the enmity that still lingered from the court case, that is a role that he would probably be quite happy to play.
At that point, the best strategy for Pavlick and Clarke would have been to sit back and wait for unfolding events to reveal themselves. That happened with Shively's HardCopy interview five days later on the evening of June 21st. If Pavlick and Clarke had had a prior conversation, it now becomes obvious why the first person Clarke called after seeing the HardCopy interview was Pavlick, as surprising as that would otherwise be. The next person Clarke called was his former distant relative, Pam Bozanich, an LA County prosecutor. By Bosco's account, Clarke was frantic to get in touch with her, and when he did, he excitedly told her several negative things about Jill Shively -- some of which we have now come to believe were untrue. From somewhere (Pam Bozanich or Bill Pavlick?) he got Marcia Clarks' fax number and sent her a slightly different, but equally damning message about Shively. Almost immediately on the day after Shively's grand jury appearance, prosecutors started talking about her as "a piece of shit," and the day after that Clark denounced her before the grand jury -- as far as has been explicitly described, only on the basis of Clarke's declarations.
(For those that doubt that Shapiro could have known about Shively as early as the night of the 15th, there can be no doubt that he would have known by the time reporters knew on the 19th. The courthouse rounds described above on the 16th could then have been done by Pavlick on the 20th, and he could still have been in contact with Clarke 24 hours before Shively's HardCopy appearance.)
The most compelling witness against O.J. Simpson is vaporized. A pretty good return for an investment of one day of running around the courthouses. Bill Pavlick should have gotten a medal.
THE WAY IT LOOKS SO FAR: As logical as the foregoing story is, there is no documented support for the critical part of it: the Pavlick/Clarke contact before the HardCopy airing. (Which, by the way, would not necessarily have been illegal, unless it involved an explicit plan to discredit a witness by lying.) We have not yet seen that Clarke was asked in testimony or deposition whether he had early conversations with Pavlick, and certainly do not know his reply to such questions.
So far, the foregoing is simply unsubstantiated -- but logically possible -- conjecture. But, we can be sure of this much: if Shapiro's office did not engineer the Shaively smear, it at least encouraged -- and perhaps facilitated -- it.
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (10/08/98) NG 435