66.1 F
Los Angeles
Monday, Oct 2, 2023



Hed — The O.J. legacy

Once again, the Simpson trial has captured the public’s imagination. For a few hours last week, the relentless fascination with the case resurfaced as a civil jury found Simpson responsible for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

It was during the three hours between the time a verdict had been reached and the time it was delivered that the city and indeed much of the nation reverted to a kind of O.J frenzy that had become routine during the criminal trial. Even President Clinton’s State of the Union message could not compete.

Along with the verdicts came the endless stream of instant analyses by almost anyone near a camera or microphone. Self-appointed experts got in their 2 cents, dwelling ominously on how the case reflects the nation’s racial divide.

We would be hard-pressed to dismiss all such concerns. But let us remember that this was never really a case about race (Johnnie Cochran’s winning defense strategy notwithstanding). It was, instead, a case that soberly reminded us of the glaring weaknesses of the criminal justice system.

Indeed, if the recent civil case proved anything, it was how inept the efforts to prosecute Simpson turned out to be.

Why, for example, didn’t Simpson’s Bruno Magli shoes become more of an issue in the criminal trial? Why did the prosecution attorneys agree to have Simpson try on gloves they knew would not fit him well? Why hadn’t the prosecution done a better job of buttressing its compelling DNA evidence? Why were there so many slips in the police department’s handling of blood evidence? Why was the defense so successful in making race the trial’s focal point? Why was the criminal trial in downtown L.A. and not Santa Monica, closer to where the murders took place? Why wasn’t a more experienced lead prosecutor chosen by the District Attorney’s office?

We acknowledge the precision of Monday morning quarterbacks as well as the inherent uniqueness of the Simpson case. But even discounting much of the criticism, it’s undeniable that L.A. is left with a police department that’s woefully ill-equipped to handle evidence and a D.A.’s office that has trouble winning the big ones. Long after the East Coast media types lose interest, Angelenos still will face those significant realities.

If there’s anything positive to come out of the two-and-a-half-year Simpson saga, it’s that the public seems at last to be tiring of it.

The day after the verdict, The New York Times quoted a Chicago car salesman as saying “Who cares? I’m more interested in the Bulls.” Doubts also are being raised about the sales potential of an upcoming book by prosecutor Marcia Clark because so many other Simpson titles have been published including several that have bombed.

“The celebrity stuff has pretty much worn off,” attorney Gerald Uelman, a member of Simpson’s criminal defense team, told the Business Journal.

As well it should. It was a long and troubling ride, but the time has come to move on.

Previous article
Next article

Featured Articles

Related Articles