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The OJ Simpson Murder Case
Trials involving prominent personalities within a fragile social fabric often gain notoriety resulting from different viewpoints by media houses supporting the perception of different community groupings. One such case was the O. J. Simpson trial which is officially referred to as The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson. This particular court case highlighted the differences at the heart of the American society and more importantly, exposed the numerous irregularities and procedural errors that poked holes as to the effectiveness of the American justice system (Johnson, 2001). This paper seeks to incorporate all facets of the criminal justice system beginning with the police investigations to the final verdict. A thorough description of the case is also provided as well as a comprehensive analysis of the proceedings.
According to police investigations, O. J. Simpson’s estranged wife as well as her younger male lover was both brutally murdered at the night of 12th June 1994 in Nicole Simpson’s Los Angeles home (Baynes, 1997). Neighbors bound the two corpses in a grisly scene that offered the investigators with numerous instances of good quality evidence necessary to ensure justice was served and the criminals firmly behind prison bars (Trimm, 2005). Such evidence included footprints, DNA evidence as well as O. J. Simpson’s fingerprints. After the police cross-examined O. J. Simpson as the main suspect, they failed to immediately arrest him. There were also reports that the culprit’s car found parked about two miles from the murder scene bore blood stains. Investigators also came across a bloodied glove at O. J.’s residence and the police confirmed the match between the blood at the scene of crime and the blood stain found in the former NFL player’s house (Trimm, 2005). The California police managed to arrest the former football star after a widely televised police car chase where he had used a gun to compel Al Crowling to evade the police at all costs. The Ford Bronco was no match for the police chaser cars and what was televised was simply a low speed highway car chase. Police found in the Ford Bronco a change of clothes, make adhesive, a fake beard, passport, a fully loaded pistol family pictures as well as cash amounting to 8,000 dollars (Trimm, 2005). This pointed to the fact that O. J. was essentially looking to run away from the eminent arrests.
This particularly publicized murder trial was officially named, the People of the State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson and proceeded on to become the country’s longest though this was probably as a result of the media attention to the trial (Baynes, 1997). The criminal prosecutors brought before the court numerous evidence which included phone records which essentially included Nicole’s emergency calls claiming her fears that her estranged husband was plotting to harm her (Trimm, 2005). There were different kinds of evidence such as witness statements, DNA evidence, and many other admissible forms of evidence that the prosecution sought to utilize to ensure justice was served. The DNA evidence gained and presented before the court was enough to convict O. J. of the crime of murder (Dershowitz, 1997). For instance, blood matching that found on O. J. Simpson’s care was found to match that found at the scene of the murder crime. On the same note, blood found on the main suspect’s socks was found to match that of Nicole Simpson.
Simpson’s defense explicitly displayed the gist of their arguments on the police officer’s racist orientation on the fact that the term nigger was applied considerable times in the presented police report (Neuendorf et al., 2000). It is also believed that the team of prosecutors had also believed that having a jury with more African American women would be sympathetic to their cause. The defendant’s defense team turned the tables around on the prosecution by basing the entire case on the racist agenda which had for generations divided the country’s society into two dominant groups. Rather than address the actual facts presented in the murder trial, the defense team strongly founded the implication of the defendant as being the murder to the cause of oppression against the African American people (Neuendorf et al., 2000). The outcome of the jury’s decision was that O. J. Simpson was not guilty of the deaths of both Nicole Simpson and Goldman Ronald.
On of the most prolific attorneys in the U. S. at the time known as Johnnie Cochran was brought on board the defendant’s defense team. He strongly fought to refute credibility of the evidence presented in court noting that detective work was not only biased but also that poor professionalism on the part of detectives compromised the evidence collected from the scene (Fukurai, 1998). Cochran also ensured that he exploited the issue of race to the fullest extent. For instance, the video presented in the court portrayed police officer Mark Fuhrman as racist person based on the recorded verbal slur and remarks (Neuendorf et al., 2000). This particular officer was also charged with the crime of perjury after saying that he had not uttered a single word of racist slur for about a decade.
The jury hearing this particular case was composed of one Hispanic man, two white male and nine African American individuals. Their verdict on the trial as read out by law clerk Deirdre Robertson to Judge Lance A. Ito was to the effect that O. J. Simpson was found not guilty of violating Penal Code Section 187A under California State Law upon Nicole B. Simpson (Fukurai, 1998). Judge Ito subsequently acquitted the defendant of both counts of murder and ordered he be moved to a suitable sheriff’s facility for immediate release. The Jury had deliberated for a mere three hours prior to handing down their verdict. The defense team had successfully worked to create reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant could have slain two individuals, got back to his home, gained a new change of clothing, cleaned up after his mess and subsequently rid of his weapon in the time frame provided by the prosecution.
From the defense’ viewpoint in the People of the State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson, a number of objective theories won the case for the defendant. Under the California laws at that time, the two counts of crime that amounted to first degree murder translated to a capital offense (Fukurai, 1998). The highly controversial verdict was perceived by majority of the white American populace as being a profound miscarriage of justice. To this demographic group, there was the sincere as well as understandable conviction that the defendant killed his divorced wife and lover. Looking at the juror’s thought out verdict, there was the overarching fact that some of them observed that the defendant did actually commit the murders (Dershowitz, 1997). However, based on reasons of law and justice, the defendant was deemed not guilty. Given their controversial verdict and their personal opinions on the trial, it is critical to understand why the jury decided the case contrary to the expectation of the majority of the American populace.
The prosecution had based its supposedly robust evidence pinning Simpson to Nicole and Goldman’s murders based on the following insights. That the defendant’s prior violence directed at his estranged wife presented a strong motive to murder her (Dershowitz, 1997). Secondly, the prosecution noted that Simpson took advantage of the opportune place and time to exclusively execute the killings. Thirdly the prosecution had gathered sufficient evidence expressly inferring Simpson as the murderer (Dershowitz, 1997). Such evidence included foot prints, bloodied gloves, fiber, blood, hair, and finger prints. However, the defense team strongly dismissed the prosecution’s claims. Firstly, the defense provided that it was impossible that the defendant to commit the murders at the alleged location and time. Secondly, the defense lawyers refuted any claims that the defendant had any perceivable motive to eliminate his wife as there was no evidence of violence between the two since the 1989 incidence. The defendant’s attorneys also pointed out that LAPD was solely responsible for framing the defendant based on racist sentiments which motivated detective Mark Fuhrman to manipulate evidence against Mr. Simpson. The defendant’s lawyers also proved that the LAPD was ultimately unprofessional during the dispensation of obligations concerning the case.
The defendant’s acquittal points to the fact that the American public and the sequestered jury seemingly saw as well as had different trials. Jury trials often filter evidence based on the distinctive life experiences of each of its members. This was essentially the case in the People of the State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson as most of its members seemed predisposed to side with the defense from the trial’s onset. In as much as many were overwhelmed by the acquittal, there is no basis not to respect the jury’s verdict. The prosecution tables some viewpoints such as domestic abuse which was disregarded and considered a waste of time by some of the jurors. The defense team tirelessly sought to distance the evidence provided from his enviable behavior in the past. Numerous social dynamics plagued this particular trial to the effect that it cannot be considered as a clear representation of the American Criminal Justice System.
Baynes, L. M. (1997). A Time to Kill, the OJ Simpson Trials, and Storytelling to Juries. Loy. LA Ent. LJ, 17, 549.
Dershowitz, A. M. (1997). Reasonable doubts: The criminal justice system and the OJ Simpson case. New York City , NY: Simon and Schuster.
Johnson, J. W. (Ed.). (2001). Historic US court cases: An encyclopedia (Vol. 2). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
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Fukurai, H. (1998). Is the OJ Simpson verdict an example of jury nullification? Jury verdicts, legal concepts, and jury performance in a racially sensitive criminal case. International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 22(2), 185-210.
Neuendorf, K. A., Atkin, D., Jeffres, L. W., Loszak, T., & Williams, A. (2000). Explorations of the Simpson Trial” Racial Divide”. Howard Journal of Communication, 11(4), 247-266.
Trimm, H. H. (2005). Forensics the easy way. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s.