And if I were O.J., I'd be plenty scared.
Monday, September 15, 2008
O.J. Simpson may not get a fair trial. That's what a lot of people are saying, right? That jurors will be stinging, still, from that February 5, 1997 verdict that allowed him to walk away from a double homicide charge. And jurors will be so outraged, apparently, that they will not be able to weigh the facts objectively now that he stands trial for kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas. My take? The talk is right. And, beyond that, my guess is that few people care if Simpson's right to a fair trial is violated. As a career crime reporter, I know only too well that no matter what we think of Simpson—and I do think he brutally slashed to death ex-wife Nicole Brown and friend Ron Goldman—he still deserves an unbiased jury. You know, the kind he didn't get the first time—only that worked out in his favor. But this time? Eh, my gut says probably not so much. Oh, forget my gut. Listen to the potential jurors directly. "I feel the case down in Los Angeles—if someone got away with that," a male juror angrily reasoned, "you would keep yourself clean and you wouldn't come back and commit another crime." That one led the defense attorney to try to have all potential jurors who even heard the comment dismissed. The judge refused. After all, it's taken all week to find 12 unbiased jurors. She wasn't about to allow such a setback. But she did allow others who agreed with him to raise their hands. A few did. All were sent home. Another juror admitted on his questionnaire that he couldn't get over his anger about the 1995 acquittal (though he later said under examination that he had a "change of heart" about that). Right. I can't help but wonder, in fact, if there are some folks out there who are so upset over that long-ago injustice, that they'll gloss over their feelings publicly just to get a seat on that jury and somehow finally seek justice for those old murders. It could happen. And we'd probably never know. No more than we knew the jurors in California all those years ago were incapable of setting aside feelings of bitterness over police injustice to the minority community and seek their retribution by letting an obviously guilty man go. But all that aside, what I'd really love to know is . . . What is O.J. thinking as he sits there, listening to people call him a murderer. Unlike the last time, when he would roll his eyes at comments in court and famously proclaim himself "100% not guilty," Simpson remains passive, with not a flicker of emotion crossing his face as each day's proceedings roll on. But I bet he is scared. He's 61 years old and once again facing life in prison, this time for kidnapping, armed robbery, and assault in connection to stealing items from two sports memorabilia dealers in a Vegas hotel room last year—memorabilia he claims were his. Such a dumb crime. And this time, he's alone, pretty much. No gavel-to-gavel coverage by all the media networks. No outraged black community. No Cochran and crew (a.k.a., Dream Team). No lenient Judge Lance Ito allowing the circus to dance on and on. And I think Simpson knows the chances of getting 12 jurors and 6 alternates with absolutely no opinion, with no ax to grind against him, are pretty slim. I'm not saying it's right. Or fair. That's just the way it is.Tweet