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Simpson showed up at his first court appearance on June 21 and he pleaded not guilty to the two murders. A jury was formed right away to see if there was enough evidence to press charges on OJ Simpson. Two days later on June 23, the jury was dismissed because there was so much media coverage on this case and they did not want the jury to be influenced by it. The new jury was also likely to be influenced by the media. A week long hearing took place and finally a California court superior judge ruled that there was enough evidence to try OJ Simpson for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. At his second court appearance, on July 23, Simpson pleaded in a confident and defiant tone: "Absolutely, one hundred percent, not guilty."(Jones 4) Leading the murder investigation was veteran LAPD detective Tom Lange. What followed in 1995 were 134 days of televised testimony in a very public criminal trial. Many people in the trial became celebrities due to this exposure, including Judge Lance Ito. This court case was so famous that when a poll was done it showed that 74% of Americans could identify Kato Kaelin but only 25% knew who the Vice President was. (Jones 8) Another poll that showed results that 91% of the television viewing audience watched it and 142 million people listened on radio and watched television as the verdict was delivered.
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The trial began on January 25, 1995. Lead prosecutor Marcia Clark argued that Simpson killed his ex-wife in a jealous rage. The prosecution opened its case by playing a 9-1-1 call Nicole Brown Simpson had made on January 1, 1989 in which she expressed fear that Simpson would physically harm her. (Bosco 7) The prosecution also presented dozens of expert witnesses on subjects ranging from DNA fingerprinting to shoe print analysis, and what they concluded placed Simpson at the scene of the crime. A limousine driver, Allan Park, who was to drive Simpson to the LAX airport said that he could not contact anyone through the intercom at Simpson's gate when he arrived at 10:35 p.m. Around 10:50, he saw a large figure enter the house, some lights came on, and Simpson answered the gate's intercom. They then loaded some bags into the limo and left for the airport at 11:15. (Jones 9) He also stated that he had seen a parked vehicle when they pulled away but he wasn’t sure. His testimony was rejected because of his uncertainty regarding the parked vehicle.
Simpson hired six very expensive, high-profile lawyers, including Barry Scheck, Robert Shapiro, Robert Kardashian, F. Lee Bailey, Johnnie Cochran, and Alan Dershowitz. Simpson’s lawyers argued that Simpson was the victim of police racism and they also argued that the evidence was not properly handled and was contaminated by several people. Simpson's defense team, who was later named the "Dream Team" by reporters, argued that LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman had planted evidence at the crime scene. Police evidence collector Dennis Fung also faced heavy scrutiny because he did not properly secure and collect the evidence.
In March, Fuhrman was called to the witness stand where he testified finding blood marks on the driveway of Simpson's home as well as a black leather glove on the premises which had blood of both murder victims on it. Fuhrman was cross examined by F. Lee Bailey, and was rigorously battered with questions about being racist. Fuhrman denied on the stand that he was racist or ever made any racist comments about black people in the ten years prior to this case. But a few months later, the defense found and played audio tapes for the jury that clearly showed Fuhrman using the word “nigger” repeatedly. (Bosco 6) The tape was made about a decade earlier by a young woman named Laura McKinny, who interviewed Fuhrman in 1986 for a story she was developing. These Fuhrman tapes became one of the cornerstones of the defense's case that Fuhrman's testimony lacked credibility, and may have led to Simpson's acquittal. Fuhrman was recalled to the stand in September, but pleaded the Fifth. As a result of his testimony, he was later indicted for perjury, to which he pleaded not guilty.
At one point during the trial on June 15, 1995, Cochran suggested to assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden to ask Simpson to put on the leather glove that was found at the scene of the crime. The prosecution had earlier decided against asking Simpson to try on the glove because the glove had been soaked in blood and frozen and unfrozen several times. (Jones 10) Darden was encouraged by the prosecutors not to ask Simpson to put the glove on, but instead, to argue through experts that the glove, in better condition, would fit. Even though he was told not to ask Simpson to try the glove on, he made his own decision to ask him. The glove was too tight for Simpson to comfortably put it over his hand. This was a bad move on the prosecutor’s part because the glove did not even fit and it inspired Cochran to use a slogan that he used several times earlier in the trial in relation to other points in his closing arguments, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."(Jones 4) On June 22, 1995, assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden told Judge Lance Ito that Simpson has arthritis and the medication he takes is anti-inflammatory and on that day he had not taken his medication for the day and it caused swelling in the joints and inflammation in his hands. The prosecution also stated that the glove had shrunk after being soaked in blood and then left to dry. Prosecutors contended that Simpson's blood found at the crime scene was the result of blood dripping from cuts on the middle finger of Simpson's left hand. However, none of the gloves found had any cuts. While there was blood on the glove at the crime scene, there was none on the glove found on Simpson's property.
The prosecution was confident that they presented a solid case and fully expected a conviction. Many polls were made and the results stated that most African-Americans did not believe that OJ Simpson murdered Nicole and Ronald. Most white Americans, in the same polls, believed that the case against Simpson was solid. Racial tensions grew and because of this trial it set back the racism progress in the US by a decade. (Jones 6) At 10 a.m. on October 3, 1995, after only three hours of decision making the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.
All in all if you have any bad past or you haven’t properly collected evidence then get prepared to face some very excellent lawyers that will chew you up and spit you out. Evidence should have been secured and collected properly. The fact that this case was so publically announced it involved all of the United States. Simpson’s lawyers turned the case into a case about racism instead of murder. The African-American society felt so confident that Simpson was innocent, that if he was found guilty it might have started rioting throughout the US. It became the most publicized case in US history. It was the longest trial ever held in California, costing over $20 million to fight and defend, running up 50,000 pages of trial transcript in the process. There were 150 witnesses called to give evidence before a jury. The fact that the case had taken so long and had so much evidence and witnesses; this might have persuaded the jury’s decision. I do think that OJ Simpson did it and the case should not have been so public. I believe the prosecutors should have taken more time to go over the case before jumping into it.
Jones, Thomas, The O.J. Simpson Murder Trial: Prologue/ http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/famous/simpson/index_1.html.
Bosco, Joseph. A Problem of Evidence. New York: William Morrow & Co. 1996.