LOS ANGELES - Despite their mutual success in securing "not-guilty" verdicts for O.J. Simpson, defense attorney Robert Shapiro traded barbs with co-counsels Johnnie Cochran Jr. and F. Lee Bailey last night and this morning in separate televised interviews.
Saying he disagreed strongly with Cochran's decision to "play a race card," Shapiro said he will never work with Cochran again.
"Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck," Shapiro told ABC's Barbara Walters.
Shapiro also said he was "deeply offended" by Cochran's comparison of former Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman to Adolf Hitler, and by Cochran's contention that Fuhrman's racism was comparable to the Holocaust.
"To me, the Holocaust stands alone as the most horrible human event in modern civilization," Shapiro said. "And with the Holocaust came Adolf Hitler, and to compare this man in any way to a rogue cop, in my opinion, was wrong."
Shapiro said that while Cochran "believes that everything in America is related to race, I do not."
"I believe there are certainly racial problems in this country, and I believe that peaceful solutions can help bring the races together," he said.
Walters asked Shapiro if he would work again with Cochran.
"No," Shapiro replied.
Responding to Shapiro's statements, Cochran said Shapiro is possessed by "demons that need to be exorcised . . .."
"He's somewhere at home, sulking and feeling bad," Cochran said during an interview for a local TV station. "We did not realize the damage it would do to his ego not to be lead attorney."
As the trial preparations progressed, Cochran was brought in and he eventually supplanted Shapiro as the head of the team.
"On this, our happiest day of our whole careers, I feel bad for him," Cochran said. "I feel sorry for him. He's the one who has problems. We don't.
"I like Bob Shapiro a lot," Cochran added, "but I don't think anybody on the team is in any great hurry to work with him again."
Of the Hitler comparison, Cochran told NBC:
"That's an oblique reference that in no way trivialized the Holocaust, which I very much appreciate and understand."
Once Cochran did come on board, he soon found himself trying to mediate a deepening feud between Shapiro and Bailey, former friends whose once-close relationship was hurt by allegations about the leaks within the Simpson team.
Walters asked Shapiro how Bailey had been chosen to join the team.
"F. Lee Bailey had been an inspiration to me," Shapiro said. "It was my desire to have him behind the scenes, to rely on his great wisdom and his brainpower, but I did not feel he should be in the courtroom."
"So you did not want him there, and he was, and he did cross-examination?" Walters asked.
"That's correct," Shapiro replied.
"How do you feel about F. Lee Bailey today?" she asked.
"It's a very, very sad point in my life," Shapiro said. "This is a man who I had a very close relationship with, and I will never have a relationship with him."
"Would you work on a case again with F. Lee Bailey?" Walters asked.
"I will not talk to F. Lee Bailey again," Shapiro said.
Bailey responded this morning on KNBC-TV.
"He's kind of a sick little puppy - I think it's Bob's shattered ego," Bailey said.
"I don't mind Bob attacking me . . . but to attack Johnnie Cochran as he did is unforgivable because Johnnie Cochran bent over backwards to keep him from embarrassing himself and Johnnie Cochran is one of the better lawyers that America has ever served up."
Bailey responded on KNBC-TV, referring sarcastically to Shapiro's relative inexperience in major murder cases.
"For the past year, he's been looking for someone to interview him who wouldn't ask him if he'd ever tried a murder case before," Bailey said. "Finally, he found Barbara Walters."
Carl Douglas, another Simpson attorney, said this morning the defense team worked together well. He praised Shapiro for assembling the group.
"I don't really think that there was a lot of dissension," Douglas said on CNN. "You had a lot of strong personalities who were working together for the common good."
While there was tension on the team in January, he said, "there really wasn't something that would portend this sort of blast that we heard yesterday."
On another subject, Walters asked Shapiro why Simpson never took the stand in his own defense.
"O.J. always wanted to take the stand," Shapiro said. "At the end, there were several reasons why he didn't testify. . . . First, the trial would have been lengthened another three to four weeks. This was a jury that was exhausted. . . . This jury looked like they were ready to strangle the next lawyer.
"If O.J. Simpson had testified and made one mistake, he would (have been) convicted."