The Oj Simpsom Trial: The Real Issue Essay, Research Paper
The O.J. Simpson Trial: The Real Issue
If you had never heard of OJ Simpson before June 12, 1994 you were about to become much more familiar with his football and commentating career at this particular juncture in time. Within days, the whole world was speculating his guilt in the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown, and her boyfriend Ronald Goldman. After a public hearing, Orenthal James Simpson was brought before a jury and the honorable judge, Lance Ito. The trial was the most watched trial ever, with TV ratings being some of the highest ever accumulated for many networks. The trial was long and grueling. 72 witnesses were brought forth by the defense, and all either claimed that OJ had the motive to kill those people, or that he had the opportunity to do so. The whole world knew that he did it, but for some strange reason, the jury disagreed. They found Orenthal James Simpson not guilty. Many people believe that the real issue was not, “did OJ kill these people?” but instead it was, “was OJ treated unfairly during the investigations due to the fact that he was black?” This is in fact why he was acquitted of his crimes. Whether he committed the crime or not was not in question, because everyone knew he did.
All the evidence, including D.N.A. samples, blood samples, hair samples, and several other undeniable scientific finding all pointed their fingers right at OJ. One must ask, how in the world did this man, an obvious killer, walk away with no jail time or any punishment of any kind. Three major factors played a part in this acquittal. The first was the race issue. This trial was hot off the heels of the Rodney King trial, when racial bias was visible, and in the spotlight. Another factor was Mr. Simpson’s incredible team of lawyers, who knew exactly what cards to play, when trying to influence the jury. The last major factor was all the fame and fortune of this once role model to society.
Orenthal James Simpson was a black man. This may or may not have led the Los Angeles Police Department to treat him unfairly. One cop in particular, was singled out. Mark Fuhrman was this cop, and when brought on trial he swore he hadn’t used the word “nigger” in 10 years. The defense then played a tape in which he used the word nigger 41 times including genocidal and extremely racist remarks (Gibbs 182). This is by all means not an excusable act. In a time when we are trying to promote racial equality, tolerance, and teach the youth of America that racism is a bad thing, for an authority figure to act in such a way is shameful and disgusting. But this isn’t a good enough reason to let a killer go free. It was merely a distraction from the real issue. Sure officer Fuhrman was a liar, and a racist of the worst type, but this wasn’t his trial. This was a diversion from the murder trial that was supposed to be taking place. Another racial issue was that this trial was taking place soon after the trial of the cops who were arrested in the beating of Rodney King. Los Angeles was the scene of this crime as well, and so there is no doubt it was on the minds of all 11 jury members. It was a time when certain black people knew they wouldn’t get the same rights as a white person in the court of law. With nine black people on the jury of eleven, many people believe that the defense putting a lot of influence on the race issue is what led to Mr. Simpson’s acquittal.
The defense had the jury, judge, and the lawyers from both sides of the case were taken on a “field trip” to the crime scene, and Simpson’s own mansion in Brentwood. Before the group got to OJ’s house, one of Mr. Simpson’s attorneys took down a picture of OJ’s girlfriend and put up a Norman Rockwell print of a black girl being shown to school by federal marshals. Pictures of Simpson standing with white golfing cronies were replaced with pictures of his mother and other black friends, acquaintances, and family members. A Bible was placed on an end table in the living room that wasn’t there previously. This was to play on the jury’s racial awareness.
Another factor that was key in OJ walking away a free man from that trial was his incredible law team. Simpson’s defense team of lawyers was known to America as the “Dream Team” through media hype. They had a few major goals that they hoped once accomplished would lead to OJ’s acquittal. The first was to disprove the prosecution’s evidence concerning Mr. Simpson having a motive to kill these people. The second goal was to make the jury doubt the prosecution even knew what happened. They did this by showing their own evidence that the prosecution’s crime timeline was not valid. Another goal was to prove that OJ was too old and had to many physical injuries to perform the task of killing these people. Finally, their last major goal was to prove that all scientific physical evidence that linked OJ Simpson to the crime was most definitely contaminated, planted, or possibly both. These goals might seem hard to accomplish, especially since there was a team of 6 of the best forensic scientists in the country who, “masterfully presented the evidence that should have put the murderer in prison.” (Clark 149). This is where the “Dream Team” really made a difference.
After the whole racism issue was raised by Mark Fuhrman’s testimony, the defense lawyers raised the charge that perhaps the bloody glove found outside the Simpson residence was in fact planted there by Mr. Fuhrman due to his incredible racial bias. The defense was also very helpful in coaching OJ before he made his right to waive testimony speech. Usually if a defendant refuses to be cross-examined that means they are guilty and don’t want to be forced into incriminating him/herself. The defendant is allowed to make a short speech to persuade the jury as to why he shouldn’t have to testify or be cross-examined. The defense claimed that Mr. Simpson’s perfect speech came from the heart, and was not rehearsed. This in fact was an utter lie. A book later published by OJ’s biography co-author revealed that Johnny Cochran, Robert Shapiro, and Robert Kardashian, “helped Simpson draft the ‘waiver’ and speech.” (Clark 457). Simpson then, “spent the next two weeks refining and rehearsing.” (Clark 457). The Simpson defense team did a great job of deceiving the jury and bending the truth to all extents of the law.
The last major factor involved in OJ’s acquittal was OJ’s fame and fortune. His past career as a hall-of-fame running back for the Buffalo Bills, and his extended time as a commentator of NFL games led to much glory, a long line of commercials, and even a short movie career. Many people grew up with him as a role model, and after his superb untainted career on the gridiron, they had just cause to look up to this man. Many people respected O.J. It took a very long time to find 11 jury members that had never heard of him before.
Not only was O.J. a hall of fame running back for the Buffalo Bills, he also set the record for most seasons leading the league, and the most consecutive seasons leading the league in rushing. He has done 26 TV guest star appearances, and commercials for companies “Hertz” rent a car, and “Isotoner” gloves. He also had many movie roles, including his very funny roles in three “Naked Gun” movies. This was a man that everybody loved, and his previous media experience only added to this admiration. It was hard not to cheer for this man who brought so many years of greatness to the NFL. How could a jury convict a national role model to life imprisonment? Apparently they couldn’t. This was just icing on the cake for O.J. He also garnered more admiration in the fact that he was black. He brought color to movies like Naked Gun 33 1/3, and literally filled the role of a color commentator for ABC football. Mr. Simpson’s fame definitely played a part in his being acquitted.
In conclusion, O.J. Simpson’s trial was never about him being a killer. It wasn’t the death of those two innocent people, Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. It was about how a primarily black jury can led a killer go free because racial tensions were so high, that they felt something had to be done. It was about how a high-priced team of lawyers can blur the eyesight of one such jury, without breaking any rules. It was about how nowadays celebrities don’t go to jail, even for double murder. I think it shows that our current legal procedures don’t work very well, because there was so much evidence showing that O.J. was the murderer, the whole country knew that he did it. It helps illustrate that the American judicial system has its flaws, and can’t be trusted entirely. Many times lawyers will use cases where the crime wasn’t the issue as a precedent for a current case. I wonder if someday a lawyer will use the O.J. Simpson case as a precedent. This lawyer could argue that his client is a celebrity, and since he or she is a celebrity, he or she can’t be imprisoned.
Clark, Marcia. Without a Doubt. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1997.
Gibbs, Jewelle Taylor. Race and Justice: Rodney King and O.J. Simpson in a House Divided. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., 1996.
Morrison, Toni. Birth of a Nation ‘hood: Gaze, Script, and Spectacle in the O.J. Simpson Case. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997.
Petrocelli, Daniel. Triumph ~of~ Justice: The Final Judgment on the Simpson Saga. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1998.
Lindner, Doug. “The Trial of Orenthal James Simpson” 2000.