June 12, 2014 at 12:10 am PST marks 20 years since the explosive O.J. Simpson criminal case rocked our world.
Everybody knows what they were doing when Kennedy got assassinated, when Nixon resigned over Watergate, when ‘Who Shot J.R.’ was discovered, when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, and when 9-11 happened. But, now two decades later, we are recalling where we were when O.J. Simpson was being chased inside his white Ford Bronco, and when the Simpson Case Verdict of ‘not guilty’ was announced.
The Kennedy assassination meant solemn sadness, Nixon’s resignation meant a lack of trust in our public institutions, ‘Who Shot J.R.’ meant mythological intrigue, the Challenger disaster meant a rocking of our confidence in space exploration, and 9-11 meant doom and gloom. The Simpson Bronco Chase meant the birth of ‘real-time breaking’ news, with the O.J. Show trial becoming the first-branded global ‘reality’ television show.
As the most extraordinary legal tribunal in American history, the Simpson Case offered a first-hand glimpse into the legal workings of the American legal system, including how the “haves” and “have-nots” engage our legal forums.
The colorful characters made for the best of Hollywood melodrama in race, personality, celebrity, and the ‘extraordinary out of the ordinary’ of what it means to be somewhat unusually controversial inside the American experience.
Two decades later, the New York Daily News revisited the key players who captivated America: “The Suspect, Tragic Victims, Grieving Father, The Prosecutor, Kardashian TV, The Getaway Vehicle, The Cop under Fire, Famous House Guest, Judge & Ringmaster, Drug Theory, Simpson Gal Pal, and Reasonable Doubt – ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.’ “
And everybody had an opinion about this intriguing and constantly unfolding story. In as much as there is an insatiable desire to recount all the drama and theatrics that took place inside the courtroom. With the internet nowadays, we are almost instantaneously informed of events as they happen, allowing us to quickly assimilate the information being offered, and quickly assess differing views that enable us to reach our own conclusions. But with the Simpson Case, we had to become engaged on a daily basis with the slow journey of a legal melodrama inside a legal tribunal.
Perry Mason and Law & Order or The Kardashians and The Atlanta Housewives could not have done it better.
But at what cost, and how are we doing in the aftermath two decades henceforth?
What do you think?
Revisiting The O.J. Show Twenty Years Ago: June 12, 1994 — October 3, 1995
June 12, 2014 at 12:10 am PST marks 20 years since the explosive news broke about a double homicide in Brentwood, California that quite simply rocked Hollywood and our world.
The stunning White Ford Bronco Chase, going north on Interstate 405, followed by 20 police cruisers and witnessed via satellite around the world, is 20 years old on June 17, 2014 at 6:45 pm PST.
On June 20, 2014, Simpson was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to both murders two decades ago, as the presiding judge order Simpson to be held without bail for trial.
The Simpson Case cemented round-the-clock media coverage into our daily lives. The trial also created a new household entertainment medium — Court TV (now truTV). Televised by Court TV, and for the most part 24/7 by CNN Breaking News, as well as emerging innovations in worldwide satellite cable and network news outlets, America’s most intriguing trial began two decades ago on January 24, 2015.
Dubbed the birth of reality television as the O.J. show, the case, as recalled by one of Simpson’s talented attorneys, then-Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, “was kicked off by a low-speed police chase with the Juice lying in the back of the infamous white Ford Bronco. This case was full of characters good, evil, and devious, from Johnnie Cochran to Judge Ito, Kato Kaelin to Mark Fuhrman — even a certain black leather glove got its fifteen minutes, and then some.”
Today, the O.J. Simpson trial is still the standard bearer, when it comes to sensational court cases. Indeed, seemingly the entire country gasped twenty years ago on October 3, 2015, as O.J. Simpson was found by 12 jurors “not guilty” and acquitted of the capital offense of taking the lives of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. What other trial can say it sucked the air out of a nation? There is still so much about the trial that we do not know, which makes the Simpson case the most intriguing criminal trial in American History.
Worldwide television exposure made celebrities of many of the figures in the trial, including the presiding judge, Lance Ito.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti appointed Prosecutor Marcia Clark, a 40-year-old Deputy District Attorney, as lead prosecutor, her twenty-first murder trial during her 13 years with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Deputy District Attorney Christopher A. Darden, an African-American prosecutor, then widely-experienced in murder trials, was later appointed as Clark’s co-counsel.
Since Simpson wanted a speedy trial, the defense and prosecuting attorneys worked around the clock for nearly ten months to prepare their cases.
Presiding Judge Lance Ito started interviewing in October 1994, 304 prospective jurors, each of whom had to fill out a 75-page questionnaire.
November 3, 2014 marks 20 years since the O.J. Simpson Trial’s 12 jurors were seated with 12 alternates.
Simpson hired a team of high-profile lawyers, including F. Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Gerald Uelmen (the dean of law at Santa Clara University), Carl E. Douglas and Johnnie Cochran. Two attorneys specializing in DNA evidence, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, were hired to attempt to discredit the prosecution’s DNA evidence, and they argued that Simpson was the victim of police fraud and what they termed as sloppy internal procedures that contaminated the DNA evidence.
Simpson’s defense was said to cost between $3 million and $6 million. Simpson’s defense team, widely-known in legal and media circles as the “Dream Team,” argued that LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman had planted evidence at the crime scene. LAPD Criminalist Dennis Fung also faced heavy scrutiny about the collection of crime scene evidence. During the course of the trial, 150 witnesses gave testimony.
Additional revelations about the extraordinary case have been put forth by the late Johnnie Cochran Jr. , who was the Dream Team’s legal showman. He delivered the crowning closing argument statement that summarized the entire defense team’s legal doctrine and strategy of ‘reasonable doubt’, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” This opened the door for two decades of legal writings and academic scholarship across the legal community. Documenting his first-hand take on the case, Cochran reportedly received $2.5 million for his memoir, “Journey for Justice.”
Another one of Simpson’s attorneys, Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, brought forth some prospective on the case in a memoir, “Taking the Stand: My Life In The Law.”
Simpson called Alan Dershowitz his ‘God Forbid’ Lawyer”
Before joining Simpson’s “Dream Team,” Dershowitz made public statements asserting that evidence pointed to Simpson as the likely killer. He took the case, however, “because Simpson was facing the death penalty, and I have a policy of generally accepting capital cases, he explains.
Ultimately, however, the district attorney made the “surprising” decision not to seek the death penalty, which Dershowitz says could have cost the prosecution a “guilty verdict.”
He writes, “The decision not to ask for the death penalty against O.J. Simpson was especially surprising since prosecutors often seek capital punishment in order to gain a tactical advantage” when the verdict comes down. “This advantage derives,” he explains, “from the fact that in death penalty cases, the prosecutor is entitled to a ‘death qualified jury,’” which means that each member must express no objection to the death penalty, and would be willing to sentence someone to death. According to Dershowitz, “Such jurors, according to jury experts, tend to be pro-prosecution in general and more likely to vote guilty.”
With the death penalty — Dershowitz’s original reason for joining the defense — off the table, he decided to stay on. He writes, “I couldn’t abandon my client.”
“My role in the case was to prepare and argue complex legal motions and to help formulate the scientific or forensic defense,” he explains. I would also argue the appeal in the event of a conviction. Simpson called me his ‘God forbid’ lawyer.”
As such, Dershowitz generally did not appear in the courtroom with Simpson, preferring instead to send legal briefs from his Harvard Law office in Cambridge. However, Dershowitz appear in the courtroom on the day of the infamous glove stunt. Dershowitz says what he saw shocked him.
Having Simpson try on the glove found at the murder scene “was about the dumbest [ploy] any prosecutor could have attempted,” Dershowitz writes, because Prosecutor Darden could have asked for a trial run outside the presence of the jury. “But Darden was not one for legal subtlety,” he writes. “O.J. walked right next to me, tried on the glove, and in the most dramatic moment of the long trial, stood in front of the jury and told them it didn’t fit. He even testified, ‘It’s too small.’ ”
“Shortly after this dramatic moment, the lunch recess was called, and I went to O.J.’s holding cell behind the courtroom and told him that they might ask him to try on the glove without the latex under-glove he wore during the courtroom experiment,” Dershowitz recalls. “He assured me that it still wouldn’t fit.”
Glove aside, Dershowitz claims that the defense was “able to demonstrate, by means of sophisticated scientific evidence, that the police had planted O.J. Simpson’s blood, along with the blood of his alleged victims, on a sock found in Simpson’s bedroom after the crime.”
“The blood on the sock had high levels of a chemical that is not found in human blood, but is added to vials of blood to prevent it from coagulating,” Dershowitz writes. “The bloodstains on the sock also proved that the blood had dripped on it from test tubes while the sock was lying flat, rather than splattered on it while it was being worn at the crime scene.”
Dershowitz insists, “We discovered this before the popular television show Dexter made the public familiar with ‘blood spatter analysis.’”
After the trial, Dershowitz found it difficult to put aside constant questions from others about the Simpson’s Case. He recalls discussing the case with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
‘There’s been something I’ve been meaning to ask you,’” Dershowitz claims Netanyahu said, writing, “I expected him to ask my advice on some critical security issue. He put his arm around me and whispered, ‘So, did O.J. do it?’”
Dershowitz writes, “I was taken aback, but I quickly responded, ‘So, Mr. Prime Minister, does Israel have nuclear weapons?’ Bibi looked at me sternly and said, ‘You know I can’t answer that question.’ I looked back at him and said, ‘Aha!’ Bibi understood and laughed.”
Simpson, currently in prison on charges unrelated to the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman murders, was years ago planning a comeback as a TV evangelist, according to the National ENQUIRER.
Vanity Fair asks ‘Where Are They Now’ — The O.J. Show Cast
Vanity Fair’s “Where Are They Now: The O.J. Simpson Cast” May 7, 2014 update of some of the players in the notorious 1995 O.J. Simpson trial in Los Angeles, including 16 photos of icons of that case, including Kato, Nicole’s Akita dog, and the white Bronco Simpson’s friend drove in his televised freeway-gawking slow-speed chase.
Not among the photos are lots of actual people who had a daily courtroom presence from the day Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito got the case in August 1994 until the Oct. 3, 1995 verdict that made Simpson a free man.
One of those people was Associated Press reporter Linda Deutsch. Another was the author of the 2009 book, Anatomy of a Trial – Public Loss, Lessons Learned, by Jerrianne Hayslett about the People vs. O.J. Simpson and its effect on our legal system. Hayslett still urges “every judge facing a high profile trial, every lawyer participating in such a trial, and every journalist who might cover one to read it.”
The Black Press Photographer Allowed Inside
Haywood Galbreath has released The Haywood Galbreath Story — with Sherita Herring — timed for upcoming 20th anniversary of the Simpson trial — in which he will begin telling his story of that trial. His story, he says, is “through the eyes and lens of the Black Press photographer, who pulled off the biggest media coup of the 20th century, as well as most likely the greatest single feat of photo journalist of the 20th century, documenting a major news event against all odds.”
Anatomy of a Trial – Public Loss, Lessons Learned, author Jerrianne Hayslett, “attest to Galbreath’s determination and enterprise and that he was in the courtroom every day of the Simpson trial — the only photographer who was.”
“He also won fair and square the right to be the only photographer on the official court proceeding that involved the jury visiting Nicole Brown’s condo, which was where the murders occurred, and Simpson’s house, both in Brentwood — that despite an effort by photographers with the pool news organizations to replace Galbreath with one from their ranks,” recounts Hayslett.
How that episode played out is on pages 77 and 78 of the Hayslett book, Anatomy of a Trial, and is among several mentions of him in the book. Hayslett says, “Galbreath was one of the most evocative members of the media covering that trial.”
Galbreath himself recalls, “The O.J. Simpson double murder trial through the eyes and lens of a Black Press photographer! June 12th 2014 marks the 20th year of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Legendary pro football player and sports broadcaster O.J. Simpson was accused and tried for the murders of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.”
“Mr. Simpson on October 3, 1995 was found not guilty of the crimes of murder of his former wife and her friend. That verdict caused a firestorm of criticism for the mainly black jury black Americans had a devastating effect on race relations as well as changed media and the court system as we know it today.”
“For the past 20 years mainly what you know and have been told about that trial has come from mainstream media. Mainly Caucasian reporters, analysts and a few black Americans who were willing to give mainstream media what they wanted reference how they reported and analyzed what took place in that court room in order to be a part of the system.”
In his first interview in two decades since the Simpson Trial, Galbreath brings forth his story through the eyes and lens of the Black Press photographer who pulled off the biggest media coup of the 20th century, as well as most likely the greatest single feat of photo-journalism of the 20th century, documenting a major news event, as it was unfolding against all odds.
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