The OJ Simpson Case—Back Again!! Part 1

oj simpson, oj simpson murder caseHave you been watching American Crime Story on TV which is running a series recreating the OJ Simpson murder case from 1995?  Maybe it’s because the series, Making of a Murderer has been so popular, TV is doing this new series.

Rolling Stone magazine is also following the series and fact checking everything.  Most of the series is accurate—which tells you something: when a TV entertainment show uses the real facts, the real trial must have been quite a circus!!

It was!  I predicted a Not Guilty verdict back then, but no one believed me.  OJ Simpson seemed to be obviously guilty to everyone.

As an experienced trial lawyer, here’s what went wrong–

  1.  Judge Lance Ito was legally competent but too immature to run a courtroom in an orderly and fair way.  The judge is the one person who ultimately has the responsibility to control the courtroom and how a trial is conducted.  Judge Ito was more concerned with his own notoriety than controlling how the trial was conducted.  As a result, no one got a fair trial.
  2. The prosecution team was inept and inexperienced.  William Hodgman was fully prepared to try the case and he had lots of experience.  Unfortunately, for health reasons, he left the case in the hands of Marcia Clark and Chris Darden.  They weren’t up to the job and the pressure from the media in the OJ Simpson case.
  3. Here’s an example of their incompetence—the famous glove.  The prosecution team met for hours to discuss how they were going to introduce the bloody glove—allegedly belonging to OJ Simpson—found at the scene of the murder.  Everyone told Darden not to have OJ Simpson try it on.  Why not?  Because he could easily fake that the glove didn’t fit and, therefore, couldn’t have been worn by him to commit the murder.   Darden agreed.  Back in the courtroom, it’s reported that F, Lee Bailey for the defense, taunted Darden by saying: “You don’t have the balls to let OJ Simpson try on the glove.”  Against all the planning and common sense, Darden asked OJ Simpson to try on the glove.  Simpson squinted as he struggled to pull on the glove until finally he said, “It doesn’t fit.”

The series is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The People vs. OJ Simpson, The Run of His Life.  Another good book was written by a former LA prosecutor named Vincent Bugliosi.  Outrage: 5 Reason Why OJ Simpson Got Away With Murder.  Both books are excellent but heavy with lots of details and tiny points that lawyers may find interesting, but for lots of readers will be too much.

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About Colin Nelson

Colin T. Nelson worked for 40 years as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis. He tried everything from speeding tickets to first degree murder. His writing about the courtroom and the legal system give the reader a "back door" view of what goes on, what's funny, and what's a good story. He has also traveled extensively and includes those locations in his mysteries. Some are set in Southeast Asia, Ecuador,Peru, and South Africa. Readers get a suspenseful tale while learning about new places on the planet. Colin is married, has two adult children, and plays the saxophone in various bands.

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