Previously on TPvOJS, ‘The Dream Team’
Now with the legal process underway, the prosecution and defense begin their strategy for jury selection. With the aid of jury consultants and focus groups, it becomes clear that black women are jurors to dismiss for the prosecution and target jurors for the defense. Clark is viewed as a shrewd woman by the general public and does not have a positive rapport with black women. Furthermore, black women were found to view O.J. as more sympathetic than Nicole.
Not aiding in improving Nicole’s image, the fame and money hungry Faye Resnick betrays their friendship by releasing a raunchy novel that paints Nicole as party girl who does cocaine and performs “Brentwood Hellos” on random guys. In response to the book release, Judge Lance Ito suspends the jury selection for a short while to determine if its contents could be detrimental to the trial. Shapiro unsuccessfully tries to use Resnick’s book as an excuse to postpone the trial but his antics to settle the case are successful in getting Cochran promoted to lead attorney over him.
Much to The Dream Team’s dismay, however, the prosecution also modifies their team with the addition of Chris Darden. Bogged down in preparation for the O.J. trial, the DA’s office decides to no longer bring charges against AC and better utilizes Darden on the case for his insights and to appeal to the majority black jury.
Black Women: Gender vs. Race
During the episode, the prosecution and defense are surprised by who black people, particularly the women, favor:
Gill Garcetti is in favor of bringing in Donald Vinson, a jury consultant, to help them in the jury selection process. Marcia Clark, however, is still over confident and thinks their strategy should be as simple as populating the jury with black women. Due to her work on domestic violence cases, Clark believes that the black women will be able to make the connection that since O.J. is capable of spousal abuse then he is also capable of spousal murder. As women, they will sympathize with Nicole.
Interestingly, Johnnie Cochran believes that the defense should focus on getting black men on the jury since black women may resent the successful O.J. for marrying a white woman. As black women, they will view O.J. as traitor to his race.
So which one is it? In general, which side do the black women take: gender or race?
And the winner is…race, but not exactly in the sense that Cochran predicted.
Vinson conducts a focus group and asks them who thinks O.J. is guilty and who thinks he is innocent. To Hodgman’s and Clark’s horror, all the black people, including the women, vote innocent and all the white people vote guilty.
The focus group watches a tape of Clark in court and their first impressions are unfavorable to say the least. They find Clark to be a bitch, shifty, and even an unsuitable mate. These opinions definitely speak to the double standard of how aggressive men are seen as strong and confident, but firm women are regarded as cold and bitchy. Vinson gives Clark some rather misogynistic, but unfortunately accurate, advice that she can gain more favor by softening her appearance and wearing skirts. Furthermore, Vinson tells Clark that the data shows that she is unpopular among black women and scored a mere 4 on a scale of 1-10, while Cochran scored an astounding 10. Unsurprisingly, Vinson’s overall recommendation is to limit the number of black women on the jury.
O.J.’s defense team also employs the services of a jury consultant and, to Cochran’s surprise, discovers that black women have immense sympathy for the former football star. Black women described O.J. as handsome, charming, and masculine and gave him a score of 9s and 10s. Nicole was given a score of 7s, 5s and even a 3, and she’s regarded as gold digger.
Through further inquiry, I found out that O.J.’s first wife and high school sweetheart, Marguerite Thomas (a black woman), admits that Nicole was a part of her why their marriage ended. This may explain why some black women had such a negative view of Nicole.
Towards the end of the jury selection, Clark still does not seem to take Vinson’s advice to heart. Hodgman wishes to challenge the last black woman that is added to the jury after replacing one of the few white men. Clark, however, still believes the predominately black jury will side with the prosecution once they hear the damning evidence. Perhaps in a perfect world, Marcia. Perhaps.
Cochran vs. Shapiro
Throughout the episode, Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro are in a power struggle for being lead attorney in the case.
Shapiro begins his descent into second chair when The Dream Team first meets to discuss jury selection. He conveys his lack of faith in O.J’s innocence by starting the meeting with the probing question “Who thinks O.J. did it?” When no one endorses his doubts, Shapiro unconvincingly says he does not think O.J. is guilty either. Shapiro makes his next blunder when Cochran tells the team his preliminary reasoning for why black men will be their allies over black women. Giving a compliment and an insult simultaneously, Shapiro praises Johnnie for his insight in how “these people” think. Here, Shapiro demonstrates he does not possess the appropriate vernacular to speak to the jury. One for Cochran.
Despite their friendship, Shapiro turns F. Lee Bailey against him by making him work the case pro bono. Shapiro naively seems to think that Bailey should view the free publicity he is getting by being involved with such a high profile case as payment enough. Consequently, Bailey has a meeting of his own with Cochran and convinces Cochran that he is the better choice for lead attorney since Shapiro does not have the gumption to take the case to trial. Two for Cochran.
Following the initial proceedings in jury selection, Shapiro suggests he should do a press conference about the prosecution allegedly dismissing potential jurors simply because they are black. Cochran advises Shapiro he is not the most ideal person to speak out about these racial matters (with an implied ‘because you are white’ sentiment), but Shapiro holds the press conference anyway. Seemingly agreeing with Cochran, reporters approach him to comment about the proceedings and Cochran not Shapiro is featured on the front page of the newspaper. Three for Cochran.
After the release of Faye Resnick’s slanderous novel, Shapiro tries to convince Judge Ito to postpone the trial to next year and to release O.J. on bail. The prosecution accuses Shapiro of being the one guilty of inciting a media circus by leaking the Fuhrman story in order to play the race card.
Surprisingly, Shapiro insists that race has never and will never be a part of this case. (But wasn’t he the one who told Toobin that the racist LAPD framed O.J.?) Cochran gives everyone a civics lesson and states that the defense has not made the case about race. The history of how black people have been treated unjustly in this country (slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and redlining just to name a few) is what has caused race to be a factor in this case. Race plays a factor in every facet of American life: fact not fiction. With his ego bruised, Shapiro confronts Cochran on contradicting him, but Cochran challenges him on his hypocrisy. Four for Cochran.
Finally, Shapiro completely obliterates any credibility he has left with the defense team and O.J. by suggesting O.J. take a plea deal for manslaughter. Shapiro concocts a scenario in which O.J. angrily goes over to Nicole’s house to slash her tires after not receiving a dinner invitation. However, when he is caught in the act, he kills Nicole and Ron out of humiliation and jealousy, respectively.
In Shapiro’s defense, it’s not any more outlandish than believing the police planted all the blood and DNA evidence.
Consequently, Cochran and his team clean out all the O.J. files from Shapiro’s office while he vacations in Hawaii. Upon Shapiro’s return, O.J. and the rest of The Dream Team decide that Cochran should be the new lead attorney. After all, according to Bailey, Cochran is bilingual in English and “Downtown Dialect.” Cochran for the win.
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:
- On July 8, 1995, O.J.’s preliminary hearing takes place. Protestors outside the courthouse are clearly divided along racial lines. White men shout to not forget the victims and that O.J. is not a role model. Black men are wearing “Free O.J.” and “Pray for O.J.” t-shirts.
- The jury selection process took 10 weeks. The jury was composed of 17 women and 7 men with a 62% black and 20% white demographic.
- Outside the courthouse during the trial women protested against domestic violence and held signs with statistics such as “Domestic violence is the #1 cause of death to women” and “Sixty percent of battered women are beaten while pregnant.”
Here are a few facts from the Investigation Discovery show entitled Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals, episode “O.J. Simpson: Kato Speaks”:
- Shapiro tells Barbra Walters that he feels that race should have never been a part of the case. He also had no desire to ever work with Johnnie Cochran or F. Lee Bailey again – the reasoning why was made apparent in this episode.
- Nicole Brown met O.J. when she was just 18 and he was a married thirty-year old with two children.
Well That’s News to Me
- With gossip columnist Mike Walker, Faye Resnick wrote an unflattering book on her friendship with Nicole entitled Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted.
- Lee Bailey is the godfather to Shapiro’s oldest son and he defended Patty Hearst as well as Albert DeSalveo (The Boston Strangler).
- The Salingers’, O.J.’s neighbors, had a maid who remembered seeing the Bronco parked outside his Rockingham home at 10:15 pm, which conflicted with the prosecution’s timeline.
- Ron Goldman volunteered at a clinic for children with cerebral palsy.
- J. had his passport, a fake beard and mustache, make-up adhesive, and $8700 in cash in AC’s Bronco. Consequently, a crew of a charted yacht in the Bahamas was expecting O.J. on June 18, just one day after the Bronco chase. (No wonder O.J. was denied bail.)
I Have Questions
- Does Judge Ito’s wife, Captain York, have some type of connection to Mark Fuhrman? She seemed to hesitate in signing the spousal conflict form when she saw Fuhrman’s name listed.
- Who on The Dream Team leaked the story to the press that Shapiro had been removed as the lead attorney?
- Can the defense and prosecution dismiss jurors without having to give an explanation as to why?
TPvOJS - Episode 4
This was the best episode so far! I am wondering if the show employs black writers because the
racist undertones of “downtown dialect” and “these people” are spot on concerning the type of
insensitive remarks black people face in the workplace. The show did an amazing job in
portraying the tug-of-war that happens when black women are confronted with issues concerning
race as well as gender. We often unfairly are expected to choose one over the other. In the case
of O.J., the majority of the polled black women sympathized more with the former football star
being allegedly framed by the prejudiced police than to a battered white woman.
Additionally, the depiction of the Goldmans was a much needed and reminded the audience that another family besides the Browns were victimized and grieving. The acting was superb throughout the entire episode, but the best performance from the entire cast was in the ending scene when The Dream Team’s and O.J.’s faces drop in shock at the site of Chris Darden at the prosecution table. Marcia Clark’s smirk embodied the phrase “It’s game time.”