The O.J. Simpson murder trial is one of the famous and talked about murder trials in the history of United States. It owes its fame to both the celebrity status of the accused as well as the nature of the case. This murder trial is regarding the alleged murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman by the accused O.J. Simpson.
The said murder trial took place in the downtown Los Angeles County Superior Court. Prior to getting into details regarding the major participants involved in the trial, it is necessary to under the key aspects of the trial.
This is a murder trial of the murders of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman sometime after 10 PM on Sunday night. The police after conducting their investigations accused O.J. Simpson of committing the murders and arrested him..
O.J. Simpson’s defense attorney assured the police that he would turn himself in after the funeral.
However, instead of turning himself in, O.J. Simpson sought to flee and was caught fleeing by the police. It is seen that later a trial ensued as per California law wherein the police and the prosecution put forth a mountain of evidence against O.J. Simpson but he was acquitted by the criminal court. However, in a civil trial that was taking place, O.J. Simpson was charged with the murder of Ronald Goldman and was asked to pay compensatory damages.
The key participants in the criminal trial are the Judge of the Court, the jury members, the prosecution attorney, the defense lawyers, O.J. Simpson the accused and the various witnesses who deposed regarding the crime in question. Judge Lance Ito was the Judge of Los Angeles County Superior Court at the time of the Simpson murder trial. He has the experience of hearing long cause and complex felony criminal cases. The accused O.J. Simpson is a well known retired American football player who was accused of murdering his ex-wife and her friend.
The case was filed in downtown Los Angeles instead of Santa Monica where the crime took place and hence the jury selected comprised of mostly African Americans, one Hispanic and two whites (“Simpson”, 1995). In fact the head of the jury was an African American woman who had a soft spot for O.J. Simpson and had a bias towards racism in the United States. The prosecution and defense team included eminent lawyers who were well known for their excellence in the field of law. Investigators included the Los Angeles Police Department which according to various news reports was not a trusted department by the common man (Linder, 2000).
The investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department concentrated on O.J. Simpson and questioned him extensively regarding his involvement in the crime and the reason for the injury caused to his hand. However, nothing material came out of the said interview and the prosecution had to disregard this entire interview. Later the police collected enough evidence to prosecute O.J. Simpson and obtained a warrant to arrest him. The prosecution confident of the evidence against O.J. Simpson decided to conduct the trial in a downtown criminal court instead of a Court in Santa Monica where the crime had taken place.
This was the first of the series of mistakes committed by the prosecution in the case. Secondly the trial is famous as the longest run trial where the prosecution delayed the proceedings by taking their own time to present evidence and call witnesses. This resulted in the jury becoming very tired and drawn out and hence affected the outcome of the trial. The prosecution also did not follow basic principles of jury selection in this trial and allowed for a jury that comprised of members favorable to the defense (Linder, 2000).
The jury in this trial comprised of mainly African Americans, who were sympathetic to both O.J. Simpson as a fellow African American as well as the racism issue and hence the jury cannot be called as a totally unbiased jury. Also another key aspect of this case was the fact that the prosecution went into all the details, recounting every minute and second of the happenings thereby losing sight of the larger picture of the case (“OJ Simpson Civil Trial”, 1996).
The jury after deliberating over the evidence and depositions of the various witnesses came back with a verdict of Not Guilty and acquitted the accused O.J. Simpson. I do not agree with this verdict and I primarily hold the police responsible for this verdict. The police investigations were not proper and it can be seen that the police instead of following a systematic process of collecting evidence decided to follow their hunch and only later collected the evidence necessary for the case. From the various testimonies and the transcripts of the case it is clear that the police did not conduct a thorough investigation of the case and the prosecution insisted on putting before the jury all the evidence without even ensuring whether or not the police were well prepared.
Also the prosecution made a lot of mistakes in the case by calling Mark Fuhrman to stand and also by dramatically bringing in the glove that was allegedly used in the murder. These were some of the reasons that caused the jury to bring in a verdict of Not Guilty. I feel that proper presentation of evidence and complete preparation on the part of the police and the prosecution along with the prosecution following basic principles of jury selection would have ensured a different verdict (“Simpson jury reaches”, 1995).
Following the acquittal three different civil case was filed by the father of Nicole Brown and the father of Ronald Goldman which was put together to form one civil trial seeking punitive damages from the defendant O.J. Simpson. The said case was filed in the Santa Monica Superior Court where the Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki made it clear at the very beginning that this would not be like the downtown Court trial. The jury in this case along with the judge was completely new.
The major difference between the civil trial and the criminal one was that in the civil trial the standard of proof is lower where only nine of the standard 12 judges are required to agree for reaching a verdict and also the decision is based on the “preponderance of evidence”. Whereas in a criminal trial the State has to prove beyond doubt that the accused had indeed committed the crime he is accused of.
Second difference between the criminal trial and civil one is that the Judge of the Civil trial banned all photographers and also banned the lawyers from discussing the case with the media. Hence the media intervention that was evident in the criminal trial was lacking in the civil trial. Given these facts, the Civil trial was conducted within a specific time period and did not go on like the criminal one (“Simpson Civil Trial”, 1997).
The jury of the civil trial deliberated over the evidence and the depositions of the witnesses and decided in affirmative on all counts and awarded damages to the tune of 8.5 million dollars to the plaintiffs (“Simpson Civil Trial”, 1997).
Linder, D (2000). The O. J. Simpson Trial. Jurist Legal Intelligence. Retrieved 16 March, 2007 from http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/trials10.htm
OJ Simpson Civil Trial. Where prosecutors went wrong, according to experts. (1996).
USA Today. Retrieved 16 March, 2007 from http://www.usatoday.com/news/index/nns078.htm
Simpson Civil Trial Special Edition. (1997). CNN interactive. Retrieved 16 March, 2007 from http://www.cnn.com/US/OJ/simpson.civil.trial/index.html
Simpson jury reaches a verdict. (1995). CNN. Retrieved 16 March, 2007 from
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