The OJ Simpson Murder Case Part 2

The OJ Simpson murder case from 1995 is back again!!  I thought I’d seen the last of that years ago, but no.  American Crime Story is showing oj simpsona TV series about the famous trial.  For those of us who lived through the months of trial, who could forget the police chase of the white Bronco with OJ Simpson inside it being filmed by all the TV networks, the bloody glove that didn’t fit, the boring expert testimony—it’s all back again.

It’s actually quite accurate.  Rolling Stone magazine has been following each episode and fact checking it all.

As an experienced trial lawyer, I’ve tried several murder cases myself.  Here are some of my thoughts about the trial of OJ Simpson.

  1.  The prosecution team took way too long to present their evidence of OJ Simpson’s guilt.  What should’ve taken a few weeks stretched into several months, almost a year.  Why was this a problem?
  2. I worked as a prosecutor and defense lawyer.  The prosecutor must present evidence to prove the accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.  The strategy is to present just enough of the best evidence available in a short time.  The more evidence you present and the more time used, gives the defense additional opportunities to find holes to exploit.  Those holes can be argued by the defense to the jury as “reasonable doubts.”
  3. Remember, a jury is made-up of working people with families, personal lives, etc.  If they get the idea the prosecution is wasting time and dragging-out the case needlessly—they can hold that against the prosecution.  Which is what I think happened when OJ Simpson was found not guilty.
  4. The defense team wasn’t much better and argued among themselves all the time.  Johnnie Cochran had tried very few , if any, criminal cases.  F. Lee Bailey was old and “over the hill.”  But since OJ Simpson and his defense team didn’t have to prove anything, the defense was able to muddle along until the prosecutors screwed-up.  The prosecution handed them a big gift with Detective Mark Furhman.  The defense skillfully revealed his racist attitudes toward blacks.
  5. Fuhrman’s attitudes alone didn’t sink the case against OJ Simpson.  But it tainted the prosecution’s case and, along with other amateur mistakes, the case was doomed.
  6. In California the press was allowed to be present during the entire trial.  I think that contributed to the circus atmosphere.  All the participants were more worried about how they’d look on the TV news every evening than making sure the trial was fair and done well.  That’s why I’m generally against TV cameras in courtrooms.  It’s a public hearing and all other reporters are allowed in, but the power of a TV camera to cause people to act goofy is too strong.

What do you think about that?  Any thoughts about the OJ Simpson case?

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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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