The People vs. OJ Simpson

If you haven’t watched the FX series, you are seriously missing out. I know, I know, you think you don’t need to watch it because you lived through it. But the show is incredibly well done and entertaining. Here are my takeaways from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney.

  • I did not remember that the jury was sequestered for over eight months. Judge Ito likely had no other choice given the level of public and tabloid interest but how did either side let it go 8 months?
  • I remembered that Detective Mark Furhman lied on the stand about saying the n-word but I didn’t remember just how bad the Fuhrman tapes were. He was an extreme racist who was not shy about his hatred for African-Americans and that shaped how the jury (and the public) viewed every piece of evidence.
  • My recollection of the verdict was that it was decided through such a thick lens of race relations that it more reflected a way for the jury to reject the racist practices of the LAPD in general than an actual finding that the state had not proven OJ guilty. That it was as much about Rodney King as OJ Simpson. Watching it unfold twenty years later, I realize that the jury got it right based on the evidence before them. When Mark Furhman, the lead detective, was asked if he manufactured or planted any evidence in this case, he exercised his constitutional right to remain silent. I just don’t see how any jury could have convicted after that. Watch the actual footage here.
  • I also forgot just how damning the evidence against OJ was. He was certainly better at playing football than covering up after a murder (if he did it).
  • It can be harder to be a female trial lawyer for a variety of reasons. Strangers expressing their opinion about your hairstyle is just one of them. Marcia Clark was pretty tough.
  • It’s hard to imagine another trial capturing Americans the way this one did. I remember sitting in a classroom when the verdict was announced on the school’s loudspeaker. The love that America had for OJ and the mistrust that many Americans had for the police at that time resulted in a drama that may not be rivaled in my lifetime.
  • And finally, a poor person would have been convicted. A team of extremely talented lawyers and an unlimited budget for investigating the defense makes all the difference.