Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case

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Book Summary The New York Times bestseller book titled Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case examines the O.J. Simpson criminal trial of the mid-1990s. The author, Alan M. Dershowitz, relates the Simpson case to the broad functions and perspectives of the American criminal justice system as a whole. A Harvard law school teacher at the time and one of the most renowned legal minds in the country, Dershowitz served as one of O.J. Simpson’s twelve defense lawyers during the trial. Dershowitz utilizes the Simpson case to illustrate how today’s criminal justice system operates and relates it to the misperceptions of the public. Many outside spectators of the case firmly believed that Simpson committed the crimes for which he was charged for. Therefore, much of the public was simply dumbfounded when Simpson was acquitted. Dershowitz attempts to explain why the jury acquitted Simpson by examining the entire American criminal justice system as a whole. On June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown, ex-wife of O.J. Simpson, was found murdered alongside Ronald Goldman (Dershowitz 19). Chapter one of Reasonable Doubts describes how many people jumped to the conclusion that O.J. carried out the murders. Incriminating evidence emerged that more than pointed to Simpson’s guilt (Dershowitz 21). Soon enough, media reports claimed that Simpson would be charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Simpson’s reluctance to be peacefully taken into custody was illustrated by his famous Los Angeles free-way chase that ended in his eventual surrender (Dershowitz 23). Dershowitz chose to join the defense team when offered the opportunity, claiming that the case could greatly educate people, especially his Harvard law students, on... ... middle of paper ... ...secution had scores of federal, state, and local officials at their disposal, including the FBI and the Los Angeles police department. The defense succeeded at instilling reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds. A major difference between the defense and prosecution, as stated by Dershowitz, was that the defense relied on factual evidence and scientific experts while the prosecution utilized witnesses that casted a shadow of doubt upon the whole jury (Dershowitz 97). Dershowitz claimed the prosecution knew they had falsities in their case, but kept them in order to win the case (Dershowitz 96). In all, though many people viewed Simpson as a guilty man, the allegations of police perjury and investigative errors allowed the defense to exploit and capitalize on the faults carried out by the prosecution and ultimately implant reasonable doubts in the minds of the jurors.
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