mercredi, octobre 05, 2005

Crime and Punishment, ILIM Takes a Look Back at the Trial of the Century

Greetings from Minnesota where I'm quite tired of lightining thank you very much.

It was about ten years ago that the heroic men and women who served on the O.J. Simpson jury returned their just and appropriate verdict and acquited O.J. on the charges of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

You remember, right?

Remember Kato Kaelin?
Judge Ito?
What about one day of testimony on the rate at which ice cream melts? You remember that?
Bruno Magli?
Johnnie Cochran?

The defense moved the trial from Santa Monica (or one of the Santas) to L.A. - remember?
Remember "Time" magazine darkening O.J.'s skin on his cover photo?
Remember all the conversations about race in America?

If only I had a blog back then! or something like that; you know, something to grab attention.


Where were you when the Bronco drove around Los Angles at speeds approaching 30 miles per hour?

No kidding (I can't make this up) I was at a "90210" party.

Where were you when the verdict was announced?

I was at work. I was one of three African-Americans at a company of about 130, and, um...let's just say I was a double minority that day.

So, here are my conclusions on O.J.

First, if O.J. didn't kill them, he for sure knows who did.
Second, O.J. probably killed them.
Third, but (assuming that's true) he was not alone and did not act alone.
Fourth, if it wasn't O.J. the person who did it, did it at O.J.'s request.
Fifth, O.J. was there when it happened.

Sixth, the jury was right to acquit him.

I didn't see much of the trial, but what I did see in nightly recaps gave me plenty of grounds for reasonable doubt. The one exchange that most comes to my mind is this one:

Mark Fuhrman, the LAPD dectective who found the gloves (one at the crime scene, one at the Simpson compound) was recalled to the stand by the defense. F. Lee Bailey asked him -

"And sir, did you plant any physical evidence in this case?"

And Detective Fuhrman, with his own lawyer standing next to him, answered...

"I decline to answer on fifth amendment grounds."

I'm paraphrasing, but it was something like that.

And then, for me, the case was over. Once the lead detective refuses to answer a question about planting physical evidence in the case at trial, well then every piece of physical evidence he touched is dirty and you not only have reasonable doubt, but to me, you have grounds to end the trial right then and there.

The jury really had no choice but to acquit - in my opinion.

And man oh man, all the conversations about race in America. My barbershop was so electric with talk of the trial, that I was getting my haircut about once a week. Grown men shouting their opinions. Man, I would take some fierce heat for my belief that he did it. But I also believed that he would be acquited and that acquital was the proper result - and people were perplexed by that.

Now, ten years later, a question we might ask is: did O.J. get away with murder?

Which leads me to my seventh conclusion: no, he didn't.

For me, the answer is no.

He got his punishment all right. He may not have gone to prison, but he got his punishment.