O. J. SIMPSON
O. J. SIMPSON
by William H. Benson
October 7, 1999
The evidence all pointed to him. The LAPD found drops of Simpson’s blood at the murder scene. A stocking cap with hairs matching his was found next to Ron and Nicole’s dead bodies. One of Simpson’s leather gloves was lying between them. The other matching glove was found outside his house stained with the victims’ hair and blood. His shoe prints were stamped in the victims’ blood at the scene. His own blood dripped up his driveway and into his house. He had cuts on his hand the day after the murders but offered no adequate explanation. His socks in his home were spattered with his and Nicole’s blood. The evidence piled upon itself.
Daniel Petocelli, the prosecuting attorney in the later civil trial wrote, “His blood, his cuts, his clothing, his gloves, his shoes, his car, his house, his ex-wife’s blood, Ron Goldman’s blood . . . all pointed to O. J. Simpson and to no one else.”
And yet, on October 3, 1995 at the conclusion of the criminal trial, the jury acquitted him of double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman. How could this be?
Called the Trial of the Decade, or perhaps of the Century, it had immediately turned into a carnival-like atmosphere, much like another celebrated trial earlier in the century–the Scopes Monkey Trial.
But the O. J. Simpson criminal case is a study in deceptions. All those involved–Judge Lance Ito, the Dream Team of defense lawyers, the prosecution team, and Simpson himself–were primarily interested in their own well-being, their own cause, and how they looked to the millions who eagerly watched on television. In such an atmosphere, a patsy must be sacrificed, and that, as it turned out, was the LAPD police detective Mark Fuhrman.
Johnny Cochran and F. Lee Bailey, the Dream Team of defense attorneys, viciously pounced upon Fuhrman until the jury believed that the LAPD was so filled with incompetencies that none of the evidence could be trusted. And then they accused Fuhrman of distorted attitudes and of deliberately trying to frame Simpson for the murders by tampering and even planting evidence.
Also, the prosecutors, Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, repeatedly flubbed, at the best a D- performance. At the trial Simpson couldn’t put on the glove. Christopher Darden in his summation to the jury said, “Nobody wants to do anything to this man. We don’t. There is nothing personal about this, but the law is the law.” (Can you imagine being almost apologetic to a jury when you believe the person you’re prosecuting committed a brutal double murder?)
The theory is that by applying the facts to the known rule justice will be found. But the practical reality is that at various times juries do not want to base their decision solely upon a general law, thinking that in all fairness it is better to decide each individual case upon strictly its own merits.
An old judge at a different time once remarked, “A jury has its uses. It is like a cylinder head gasket. Between two things [law and facts] that don’t give any, you have to have something that does give a little, something to seal the law to the facts. There’s no focal point with a jury; the jury is the public itself. That’s why a jury can say what a judge couldn’t.”
In the O. J. Simpson case, the law was the law, and the facts were the facts. But in between those solid and implacable iron plates stood the jury members who saw only a loveable and famous football player who ran and jumped through airports on television. They did not perceive that he was a raging cold-blooded and calculating killer capable of slashing his ex-wife’s throat seven times and stabbing her protector thirty times.
Before her death Nicole Brown Simpson prophetically and truthfully saw, perceived, and summed up the situation better than anyone at the trial when she told her close female friends, “O.J. is going to kill me someday and he’s going to get by with it.”