TheO. J. Simpson Case
TheO. J. Simpson Case
Differentcases receive varying levels of publication and media coveragedepending on the significance of the crime committed and partiesinvolved in the case. The O. J. Simpson murder case is a criminaltrial that has been considered as the most exposed or published inthe history of America’s criminal trial (Price & Lovitt, 1997).The case involved the trial of O. J. Simpson, an actor and a formerfootballer, who was accused of murdering his wife Nicole Brown and awaiter Lyle Goldman. The case began in November 1994 and the verdictwas issued in October 1995 (Price & Lovitt, 1997). The caseattracted the attention of the public because of two factors, namelythe aspect of possible racial discrimination against the accused bypolice and the popularity of O. J. Simpson as an actor and footballstar. This paper will examine the process of jury selection, jurysequestration, verdict, and controversies that are relevant to thejury verdict.
Thejury selection process
Thejury selection process began on September 1994 Ito’s courtroom(Robles, 1995). The selection process took a period of about 2 monthsand involved the screening of about 250 potential jurors to the O. J.Simpson’s case. The defense side was represented by attorneys JohnCochran, Robber Shapiro, and Jo-Ellan Dimitrius while the prosecutionside was represented by Bill Hodgman, Marcia Clark, and Don Vinson.The extended period in which the final jury would be selected was anissue of concern to Simpson, who complained loudly, “Oh God, no…” (Robles, 1995). The larger number of questions (294) contained79 pages questionnaire made the process of jury selection lengthy andtiring. Potential jurors were also required to complete a hardshipquestionnaire of one page to determine those who would be excluded inthe initial phase of jury selection. During the jury selectionprocess, Judge Ito excluded several potential jurors who violated therules of his court, including exposure to the media and visiting thebookstore. At the end, 12 jurors were selected where 8 of them wereblack, 1 half-Caucasian and half Native American, 2 Hispanic, and 1Caucasian. Eight out of the 12 selected jurors were female and 4 ofthem were male (Robles, 1995).
Fromthe jury selection process, there were two possible factors thatcould have potentially resulted in unfair selection of jurors. First,the decision of the prosecution side to file Simpson’s case in thedownside of Los Angeles instead of the judicial district in which thecrime occurred (Santa Monica in this case) influenced the racialcomposition of the jury. Filing the case in California would haveincreased the representation of the Whites, who believed that O. J.Simpson was guilty, in the Jury. Secondly, the nature of thequestions asked by the prosecution during the selection processseemed to portray some aspects of racial discrimination and thiscreated a notion that the prosecution was racially motivated toprosecute O. J. Simpson for murder.
Jurysequestration is a process that isolates the selected jurors from thepublic for a certain period in order to maintain the integrity of thetrial. Jury sequestration is a rare process that is only conducted incases of serious criminal offenses, such as the O. J. Simpson case.In the case of O. J. Simpson, jury sequestration was conducted toachieve two goals, including the prevention of the occurrence ofaccidental tainting of jurors and to prevent the probability of thepublic tampering with the jury through bribes and threats (Keene,2013). The sequestration began immediately after the list of names ofpeople who would compose the jury was announced. The process took atotal of 265 days, setting a record of the longest jury sequestrationprocess in the history of the American judicial process (Keene,2013). The process involved the movement of the jurors into a hotel,keeping them under a 24 hour supervision, and limited contact withrelatives. During this period, the judge was free to sequestermembers of the jury at any time he felt that different factors(including public sentiment, publicity of the trial, andmachinations, the influence of the interested parties, ormaneuvering) might impact the outcome of the trial. In essence, thesequestration process was properly conducted and ensured that thejury was free from the influence of the public.
Ittook a period of four hours for the jury to reach a unanimousconclusion, which declared that O. J. Simpson was innocent. The juryreviewed one testimony that influences the final decision. Thetestimony given by Alan Park, a limo driver, showed that he had notseen Simpson’s Bronco outside the estate of Rockingham after theoccurrence of the murder (Dershowitz, 2004). Although the jury wasquick and efficient in delivering its verdict, the Judge (Ito)postponed the announcement of the verdict to the public given thesensitivity of the case beforehand. It was feared that theannouncement could increase hatred between the Whites and the BlackAmericans, which could in turn agitate riots. The significance of thecase was properly assessed during the announcement when telephonecalls reduced by about 58 %, water usage reduced by 41 %, and thesale of Pizzas declined by 100 % in nearly all chain stores(Dershowitz, 2004).
Controversiesrelevant to the jury verdict
Thereare three controversies that are relevant to the verdict given in thecase of O. J. Simpson. First, the issue of whether Simpson committedthe murder and the capacity of the jury to determining if he wasguilty was controversial (Linder,2000). Themurder occurred in a complicated manner, implying that presentationof sufficient evidence was difficult. Secondly, overrepresentation ofthe Black Americans in the jury raised controversy and the questionof whether the verdict would be racially biased. This was a serioussource of controversy given the fact that Simpson was a BlackAmerican while his wife was a White American (Linder,2000). Lastly,the significance of media coverage during the announcement of theverdict was a highly debated issue given the fact that the outcome ofthe trail could spur riots.
Inconclusion, the O. J. Simpson Case is one of the most significantcriminal trials in the history of American judicial processes. Thesignificance of the case resulted from the popularity of thesuspected persons, O. J. Simpson, and the fact that it involved theoffender and defendants of different races. The process of juryselection was questioned on the grounds that the case was not filedin the district in which the case occurred. The process of jurysequestration was conducted with care and ensured that the public didnot influence the verdict.
Dershowitz,M. (2004). Americaon trial: Inside the legal battles that transformed our nation.New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.
Keene,D. (2013). Jurysequestration: Not even the Bible is left in your hotel room.New York: Keene Trial Consulting.
Linder,D. (2000). Thetrial of Orenthal James Simpson.New York: ReganBooks.
Price,R. & Lovitt, T. (1997). O. J. Simpson. USAToday.Retrieved August 8, 2014, fromhttp://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/index/nns224.htm
Robles,B. (1995). The O. J. Simpson trial: The Jury. FamousTrials.Retrieved August 8, 2014, fromhttp://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/simpson/jurypage.html