Previously on The People v. O.J. Simpson, ‘The Run of His Life’
With O.J. Simpson behind bars, Shapiro begins to assemble a team of experts and lawyers that become known as “The Dream Team.” Shapiro’s investigator discovers that detective Mark Furhman is an admitted racist and blames his job for his bigoted views towards black people. Armed with this information, Shapiro talks to a reporter and makes claims that the racist LAPD corrupted the evidence against O.J.
Attempting to thwart any claims of racial bias, Marcia Clark and Gil Garcetti decide to hold the trial in downtown L.A. where there is higher population of black registered voters. With her 19 out of 20 homicide conviction rate and the blood/DNA evidence, Clark feels pretty confident in the strength of the case. She even elicits the help of Christopher Darden in charging A.C. with aiding and abetting O.J. during the Bronco chase in order to lay a foundation for O.J.’s guilty verdict. Additionally, the 911 tape of Nicole pleading for O.J. to be arrested as he is breaking into her house is played on the news. To the prosecution’s delight, this depicts the lovable O.J. in a brand new, violent light. However, Clark’s confidence is lessened over time as the defense’s accusations towards the police are made public and Johnnie Cochran joins the defense.
The Dream Team’s Strategy
Combating the public opinion that he is only capable of getting O.J. a plea deal, Shapiro rallies two of the top lawyers of the time: F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz. Barry Sheck, DNA expert, and Pat McKenna, lead investigator, are also added to the team. During their first meeting, Scheck reveals that the DNA evidence against O.J. is pretty iron clad since it is only about 1 in a billion chance of two people having the same DNA profile. (Basically, unless O.J. has a long, lost identical twin, they are screwed.) However, Sheck has the brilliant idea that they are going to contest the validity of the DNA evidence and try to get it thrown out. With the LAPD’s poor reputation in the black community, Dershowitz believes they can at least put the DNA evidence into question and make the jury believe it was tampered or contaminated in some way.
Side note: Also in this meeting, Rob Kardashian states that O.J. will never stop being “The Juice.” The show still seems to be depicting him as O.J.’s lackey. Based off the documentary footage I have seen, it just doesn’t seem to be a valid depiction of the lawyer and it is really starting to bug me.
Upon further investigation, McKenna discovers that Mark Furhmam sued the city claiming that his duties as a LAPD officer made him a bigot and gave him violent fantasies about assaulting black people. As Furhman is the detective who discovered the most damming evidence against O.J., Shapiro develops the strategy that O.J. was set up by the racist LAPD. To further plant this seed of discrimination in the minds of the public, Shapiro meets with Jeff Toobin, a reporter from The New Yorker, and states that O.J. Simpson cannot get a fair shake with the police since he is a black man.
Surprisingly, O.J. is not too keen on this racial discrimination defense and proclaims, “ I am not black. I am O.J.” (With their lack of visitation, however, it appears his rich, middle-aged white friends from the country club may not agree now that O.J. is just another imprisoned black male.) O.J. wants his lawyers to investigate the drug connections of Faye Resnick, a friend of Nicole’s, for possible suspects. Since his mother raised no fool, Shapiro quickly shoots down this ridiculous request and tells O.J. their strategy is his best shot and that they need a litigator like Johnnie Cochran to speak to the people that will compose the downtown jury (black people).
Shapiro invites Johnnie Cochran to join “The Dream Team” but Cochran insists he must meet with O.J. to be convinced he is innocent. With one look, Shapiro response seems to be “Good luck with that” but he sets up the meeting. O.J. once again insists he is innocent and loved Nicole. (After all, they only tussled on those 911 tapes right?) Cochran consoles a weepy O.J. and assures him that all they need to do is implant reasonable doubt into one black juror’s heart to send him home. Oh Johnnie, how right you were!
The Media Hurts the Prosecution’s Case
In the beginning of the episode, Marcia Clark scoffs at the notion that O.J’s lawyers are “The Dream Team.” According to Clark, Shapiro only settles cases, Bailey is an alcoholic, Dershowitz is only an appeals expert, and Kardashian is a nobody. She and the rest of the prosecution feel they have a slam dunk case. However, Clark begins to change her tune throughout the episode as the media begins to encroach on the case.
Jill Shively, the woman who saw O.J. driving recklessly on Nicole’s street on the night of the murders, does a TV interview for $5,000 and therefore destroys her credibility as a trial witness.
Chris Darden further warns Clark that her key witness, Mark Furhman, may be under scrutiny after talking to an inquiring reporter. Darden says her case is strong, but the black community actually thinks O.J. is innocent and is not interested in seeing another black man pushed of his pedestal and put in jail. Clark can’t seem to wrap her head around this notion, but Darden subtly lets her know she may be having a hard time understanding things due to her not being black. Message!
Backing up Darden’s claims, the interview with Shapiro is published in The New Yorker and the defense’s racial discrimination accusations are made public. Naively, Hodgman and Clark think the strategy is absurd, but Darden informs them that it could work. This is why you need workplace diversity, people: different perspectives.
Furthermore, Time magazine only fuels the racial tension in the case by darkening O.J.’s skin for the front cover. News outlets discuss how this is feeding the racists idea that black is bad and that the cover is racially insensitive.
The final hit to the prosecution’s self esteem is made when Clark reads in the L.A. Times that Johnnie Cochran has joined the defense. “Motherfucker” does pretty much sum it up.
Eh, What’s up Doc?
Here are a few facts from the Investigation Discovery documentary entitled OJ: Trial of the Century that pertain to this episode:
- During the summer of 1994, it is apparent from a radio broadcast that the Dream Team’s race defense does hold merit. Several callers voice their opinion that the media is not portraying black people’s opinion on the O.J. case and that they, the black community, believe the LAPD framed O.J.
Here are some insights gleamed from interviews with the Simpsons’ friends and family from the A&E documentary entitled The Secret Tapes of the O.J. Case: The Untold Story:
- J. Simpson: After the trial, Kardashian discovered a tape that was secretly recorded by Simpson hours before the Bronco chase. The tape has the following statement:
“I had a great life. I had some great friends. But I love you all. I love my kids. They’ll probably never hear this and I don’t want to be in there for Sydney and Justin. You’re mother loved you so and I loved you. I love your mother. And if there was any problem in our relationship, maybe it was too much love. There are some people out there that know that things have transpired recently. And this in not stuff I am sure I should be saying right now, but this is what is on my mind. I just don’t know how I ended up here. I am The Juice, whatever that means, but I’ve felt at times like I was—I felt the goodness in myself and the goodness I gave people. I don’t feel any goodness in myself right now. I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. I had a great life. I had some great friends. Nobody should feel sorry for me. I feel sorry for myself that despite everything I had I let myself get depressed. I let myself get lonely and I know there were just so many people out there. Maybe I should’ve opened up with people and they would haven known more how I was feeling inside. I tried so hard to make everybody feel good or see the good side and feel up, that I didn’t share my pain. And I think that’s where I made my mistake. Please remember me as The Juice. Please remember me as a good guy. Don’t remember me as whatever negative that might end up here.”
It is quite astounding that even in this crucial time, he still refers to himself as “The Juice” and seems to only be concerned with his image and not about what happen to Nicole and Ronald. He does appear to be suicidal, but he never once proclaims his innocence.
- Robert Kardashian: True to the pre-chase tape, Kardashian stated in an 1995 interview with Lawrence Schiller that he was upset that O.J. never confided in him about the spousal abuse and did not seek help.
- Kris Kardashian-Jenner: She revealed that she did know somewhat about the abuse, but that she was in denial and thought it was a one time thing. Like many domestic violence victims, Nicole never told her or any of her friends that she felt she was in real danger. Once Kris saw the Bronco chase on TV, it sealed in her mind that O.J. was guilty
Well That’s News to Me
- J. is Kim Kardashian-West’s godfather.
- F Lee Bailey defended Dr. Sam Shepard, whose real life story inspired the movie Fugitive, and got him released after appealing his wrongful conviction for the murder of his wife.
- Shapiro defended Bailey in an 11-day trial for a DUI.
- Jeffery Toobin, The New Yorker reporter that interviews Shapiro, is the author of the book that the show is based on entitled, The Run of His Life: The People versus O. J. Simpson.
- Detective Mark Furhman worked private security for Johnny Carson, but Carson later instructed that he not return.
- Faye Resnick, played by Connie Britton in the first episode, was a friend of Nicole’s who had a cocaine addiction.
- The Cochran firm is still around (An advertisement for the Atlanta firm has been played every show so far. Talk about shameless plugs.)
I Have Questions?
- Do the Kardashians still have a relationship with Nicole’s family and her kids?
- How will the prosecution combat the defense’s claims of racial bias?
- How can O.J. get a fair trial with so much of the case’s facts already being made available to the general public?
TPvOJS - Episode 3
I enjoyed the way this episode drove home how the media’s interference greatly affected the case and shaped public opinion. I also appreciated the implication that the prosecution would not have even considered the black community’s perception without the insight of Christopher Darden. The only character depictions I am not sold on yet are the portrayals of O.J. Simpson and Rob Kardashian. The acting is not bad, but I do not feel like Gooding and Schwimmer are capturing the true essence of the real-life characters. I am greatly looking forward to the trial, particularly the ligation style of Mr. Johnnie Cochran.