Juice….either you have it or you don't!

 

O.J. Simpson……the name immediately stirs up controversy today among those who followed his case in the 1990s.  Some feel that OJ had the juice, the money necessary to win an acquittal when he was guilty.  Like the Lindbergh, Sacco and Vanzetti, and Sam Sheppard cases, OJ's case was a media circus.  Unlike them, he was found not guilty.  Although many reasons can be found for why he was found not guilty, including the possibility of innocence, I believe he was found not guilty because they tried to frame him.   When you try to frame a guilty person, and you are caught in the act, then you lose the case and the guilty person goes free.  This is the lesson of the OJ case.

 

At the time of the murder, OJ was 47, a famous personality, loved by the public, one of footballs greatest athletes, rich and powerful, making money from movie deals and commercials.  Then it all fell apart on June 12, 1994 when his ex-wife was brutally murdered.  Nicole Brown Simpson, the mother of his two children, age 35, along with a friend, Ronald Goldman, age 25, who apparently was at the wrong place at the wrong time, were killed outside her condominium while her children slept inside.

 

The trial was televised for 133 days.  Millions watched it unfold.  50,000 pages of transcript, 126 witnesses and 857 pieces of evidence were what the jury had to evaluate.  16 months passed from the commission of the crimes to final arguments.  The jury was sequestered for 266 days.  It took the jury only 4 hours to arrive at a verdict.  The jury was mostly African Americans and when the jury came down with a not guilty verdict the public was split along racial lines in terms of their acceptance of the verdict.  From beginning to end the case was more about race than anything else.  African American OJ was being accused of having murdered his blonde Caucasian ex-wife.  In racist America, how could it not be about race!  However, it was also white members of the jury who after only 4 hours concluded that the prosecution had not proved their case, that their was reasonable doubt as to OJ's guilt.

 

Nicole and OJ had been divorced for two years; however, they had tried to reconcile and the children kept them in one another's lives.  OJ was dating another woman at the time of the murder (another Caucasian woman); however, his past history of spousal abuse and jealousy made him a prime suspect in the case and the history revealed that the abuse had not ended with the divorce.  The DA released 911 tapes of calls related to this abuse as their first effort to turn public opinion against OJ---and it worked.  Before they released the tapes, 60% of America thought he was innocent and after the tapes 60% felt he was guilty.

 

The pivotal event in the trial was the glove found at OJ's house.  The bloody glove matched one found at the crime scene.  What happened at the trial is that the defense team though clever manipulation of the prosecuting team, got the prosecutors to request that OJ try the gloves on in front of the jury.  The defense team had already examined the gloves and were confident that they would not fit OJ and when he tried to put them on in front of the jury, sure enough, the jury could see that they did not fit.  The defense team would push this with their slogan: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

 

When you are a jury dealing with endless details for months, a nice slogan is just what you are looking for and the defense team gave them one.  They then stopped thinking about all the other incriminating evidence and found OJ not guilty.

 

Also, a major factor was how the jury was read by the defense team.  They knew that African Americans were much more likely to believe that the police were involved in a frame-up campaign against OJ because the police have a long history of treating people of color unfairly.

 

Then you have Officer Fuhrman who was caught by the defense team lying about his racist remarks.  So, if he lied about that, what else might he be lying about?   Did he plant the glove?  Remember, the glove was wet with blood hours after the murder when the blood should have dried by that time---which points to a frame up.  The prosecution case contended that in a very short space of time OJ murdered two people, which meant that he was covered in blood due to the type of murders, drove home and successfully got rid of the murder weapons (at least two knives were used), got rid of all the bloody clothes, and got dressed for his pre-planned trip to Chicago and was calm and composed as witnesses stated shortly after the brutal murders.   That makes you wonder about the prosecution case, and all you need is a little doubt if the defense gives you some way of putting it together that is easy to follow---he was framed, the police are incompetent liars, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." 

 

Numerous books have now been written about the case and a made-for-television movie has also been made.  Meanwhile, OJ has moved to Florida and gone on with his life.  However, we still are faced with the lessons from the case and how we continue not to learn from them……just as we have failed to learn from lessons taught us in other famous cases.