Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Squeezing O.J. - Will Round II Get the Juice?

by Katherine Scardino

I am not sure whether I want to write something about O.J. Simpson. After the criminal trial in 1994, we all probably said something to the effect of "I hope I never hear this man's name again for the rest of my life."

I know there were people who watched every minute of that murder trial in California over a decade ago—you know, the one that lasted almost a year! And with an equally startling verdict.

During that trial, I remember being called by a member of the press in Houston, Texas, where I live, and asked to basically "guess" what the jury was going to do.

This phone call came during jury deliberations and—in all fairness to the newspaper reporter—he was thinking that because I had been practicing criminal law in Houston for a while, and had tried more than a few criminal cases, I might have some insight or clue as to what the jury would do.

Well, in my most J.D.-educated tone, I told him I thought that surely this jury would find Mr. Simpson guilty of murdering his wife and Mr. Goldman.

I had watched enough of the trial to feel that he was guilty. But I also recog
nized that Barry Scheck, Johnny Cochran, and the other members of his defense team did a fantastic job of "smoke and mirrors" and that the two prosecutors were totally outclassed and outlawyered by that so-called Dream Team. That is not supposed to matter . . . but in the glare of that circus, it was obvious.

All the same, I still felt that the State had put on enough evidence for the jury to legitimately find this man guilty.

Now we are in the midst of criminal trial number two for O.J. Simpson. This one is a crummy sequel to the first case. He is currently on trial in Las Vegas, Nevada for armed robbery and kidnapping. I have been following the newspaper about as much as you probably have—and with about as much interest.

Then I started thinking, which is a dangerous thing for me to do . . . but here are my thoughts. First, don't be mislead by the fact that he is accused of "armed robbery." He is not being charged with robbing these people of the property that he maintains was his.

No, O.J. Simpson is being tried for robbery because when he and his cohorts stormed into that hotel room, he snatched a cell phone, hat, and sunglasses (which probably actually fell off the man's face) from one of the people in the room.

Second, the "kidnapping" charge arose from a statement Simpson made on the eight-minute audiotape of this incident: "No one leaves. Do not let anyone leave this room." So that is the kidnapping part of his felony charge that could mean a life sentence for O.J.

Then, as if this is not enough, in the opening statement by the prosecutor, he told the jury to let this be the "true verdict."

Of course, the judge had instructed the jury that the California criminal trial was not to have any impact on their consideration of the facts in this case. Right! And, the prosecution was not to mention that trial. So, this prosecutor simply implied to the jury that regardless of the verdict in California, this verdict should be the "true verdict."

And he also mentioned in his opening statement that the jury will hear the "true O.J. Simpson" as opposed to O.J.'s public persona.

While not mentioning the murder trial, he alluded to it in the words he chose to use in front of this Las Vegas jury.

So where is this going? I am tending to believe more and more that this is a set up by O. J.'s alleged "friends." Otherwise, why the
full audiotape of this entire incident?

And we have to remember, that "rant" of O.J. Simpson may just be that. He is not being charged with using profane language or with losing his temper because he wanted his "s----" back.

There is always the possibility of a jury finding him guilty because of his history, the language he used, the anger he exhibited, the fact that many people around the world, not just the United States, believe that O.J. is guilty of murder and got away with it.

And this trial may be the last chance a wrong can be made right.

O.J. Simpson might get life in prison for knocking a man's sunglasses and cap off his head, and by saying that no one could leave the room. (Lord, I hope we have not resorted to revenge verdicts.)

Let's keep watching. I'll write more as the case progresses. . . .


jigmeister said...

Sounds like a ridulous case of over charging. What's wrong with aggravated assault?

A Voice of Sanity said...

The verdict in LA was not the result of poor lawyering by the prosecutors. It was the result of mind-numbingly incompetent police work by the LAPD and their technicians. If the police department of a major city like Los Angeles is unable to perform its task competently, and it is clear that it is, why is it the responsibility for the jury to ignore the law and the oath they took and "make up for it" by rendering an untrue verdict? All the "smoke and mirrors" were on the prosecution side - the defense merely pointed out the errors as they were obliged to do.

The "justice system" in the USA has truly sunk to an awful level. It brings nothing but shame and disgrace to the nation when prejudice is expected to be, and all too often is, the deciding factor in the courts. The Ramparts scandal showed that the police are even prepared to become criminals in order to "get the job done". A cynic might believe that a Sharia court might render truer verdicts. Shame indeed.

Levi said...

Katherine, great post. I am interested in hearing your thoughts as if you would put O.J. Simpson on the stand if you were acting as his attorney. I have talked to a reporter who is covering the trial, and he told me that "O.J. is the nicest murderer I've ever met."

LadySheila said...

At the risk of sounding redundant,we (being nice, here) get so tangled up in law and technicalities, and if we didn't, there would be no way for the guilty to get out of it, which is, after all, what this is about. How are we so duped or dumbfounded? I watched in horror as you all did at the verdict many years ago. Even a child would have said, he either did it or he didn't. If he did (and all arrows logically pointed to that) then he should be found guilty. If he didn't, then he shouldn't. Nobody wants to admit that it is about money and career (save for the few of you Lincoln-types I look up to). It's all about salesmanship. Scares me to think that I could have a jury one day needing someone to just see the truth and not be swayed by the salesmen. THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABOUT MURDER, FOR GOD'S SAKES. WHY WAS THE JURY SO STUPID? This current trial of his should be about the crimes he is charged with, BUT, if he gets life in prison which would seem over-punishment, then in this case only, as he got away with murder before, the scales would be balanced, eh?

LadySheila said...

Forgive me, my family says my name should have been Fair. Fair in OJ's case would be what he did to Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman (IF he did it)...

A Voice of Sanity said...

LadySheila said...
... THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABOUT MURDER, FOR GOD'S SAKES. WHY WAS THE JURY SO STUPID? This current trial of his should be about the crimes he is charged with, BUT, if he gets life in prison which would seem over-punishment, then in this case only, as he got away with murder before, the scales would be balanced, eh?

This is a truly terrible comment. You are saying that the law doesn't matter, justice doesn't matter, the Constitution doesn't matter, that cases should be judged on 'feelings' and public sentiment. That is the exact opposite of everything the legal system is supposed to be about, and is not distinguished from the case not so long ago when lynching was routine. In those cases the public was also 'certain' that the accused was guilty and wanted their revenge right now, without delay -- even in a time when the law could go from accusation to execution in a few months.

The Simpson jury were NOT 'stupid', in fact they were particularly bright. They clearly understood the difference between what they believed and what the state had to prove (and that beyond a reasonable doubt). Several of them have commented that they did think Simpson guilty, but the police performance was so poor that a conviction would have been wrong in law. All of the evidence was tainted in one way or another, and far too many of the police and their civilian employees were proved incompetent or liars.

You should applaud this jury. They stood up for YOU, not just for Simpson. They did their best to ensure that if YOU are ever prosecuted by lying, incompetent cops with defective or false evidence that you will have a fighting chance. Pray that you don't get a jury like those who convicted David Camm, Lawrencia Bembenek, Scott Peterson, Father Gerald Robinson or any of the hundreds of others falsely convicted in the USA, some of whom have been proven innocent despite repeated refusals by superior courts to properly analyse the evidence.

As for using this trial to 'balance' the other trial, that is a particularly pernicious evil which I hope the new jury will not prove susceptible to. If they are, then all hope is lost and all of the progress in race relations will be swept away in a moment. With a black defendant, this is a very dangerous position to hold.

I am one of the whitest men you will ever meet and at the end of the Simpson trial I hoped the jury would do as they did - reject the appalling travesty that passed for a prosecution. It isn't a question of race -- it is a question of justice and I care much more about the process than about the results.

Anonymous said...

You know OJ got away with murder.

Maybe because he called the race card, maybe because domestic violence has only been a crime since 1979.

This is the 1st time I've heard from anyone that OJ is nice. He didn't sound so nice at the last trial. If he's so nice why did he get arrested for road rage and his own child knocked him down recently. This is just a small portion of his reported psychopathic behavior. He also doesn't look so nice in court this time. In fact I've often wondered if he was gonna blow! He mumbles to himself, rolls his eyes and acts like he is, once again, above the law.
I'm just glad he's being made to answer for his actions! Personally I hope they throw the book at him.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!