Previously on The People v. O.J. Simpson, ‘Manna From Heaven’
The prosecution and defense give their closing statements. Clark focuses on the hardcore fiber, blood, and DNA evidence that incriminates Simpson in the homicides. Only 5 billion people are on the planet, and yet the blood found on the gate at Nicole’s condo matches Simpson at 1 in 57 billion. Darden takes a more emotional approach and reminds the jury of the numerous violent attacks that O.J. inflicted upon his ex-wife. Cochran acknowledges that Simpson is not proud of his past treatment of Nicole, but that does not mean he murdered her. He urges the jury to not be complicit in a cover-up conducted by a prejudice Mark Fuhrman to frame O.J. After all, “If it (the gloves) doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Following closing statements, the jury is finally released for deliberations. To everyone’s surprise, the jury reaches a verdict in a mere four hours. Millions around the country tune in at 10 am on October 3, 1995 to watch the verdict revealed on live television. With a not guilty verdict, the country is split along racial lines and the American justice system is scrutinized.
The racial tension in the jury room was priceless. The jury initially votes 10 to 2 for not guilty. As the initial paper ballots are being tallied, the black jurors’ eyes clearly filled with glee as the consecutive not guilty verdicts are read off. When the two not guilty verdicts are read, the two white jurors are immediately given looks of strong, but hilarious, contention. “The demon” makes the point that the defense never addressed any of the facts and there is a tremendous amount of evidence that implicates Simpson. The foreperson even admits that she thinks O.J. purposely tried to make the gloves appear to not fit when he tried them on. The two guilty voters, however, either changed their minds or gave in to the other jurors.
According to the real-life juror Lionel Cryer, the two people who initially voted guilty did not attempt to persuade the rest of the jury that Simpson was the murderer; furthermore, the DNA evidence was not even discussed during the deliberations.
Aside from the facial expressions, I greatly enjoyed this part of the show since it made me think of points not made in court. With there being a complete blood trail leading to Simpson’s front door and blood on the Rockingham glove that O.J. would have been presumably wearing while he drove away from Bundy, why was there only a few specks of blood in the Bronco? Did O.J. make an attempt to clean his car that night? With Ron having so many defensive wounds on his hands, why was there only one cut on Simpson’s left hand? I still think O.J. did it, but I also think the jurors brought up valid questions.
The Verdict Heard Around the World
The trial of the century lasted for more than 8 months, but surprisingly the verdict was reached in only four hours. In most cases, such a swift verdict would imply a conviction, but the Goldmans and the Browns were not so fortunate.
The reading of the verdict was a true testament to this show’s stellar acting and directing. Even though the outcome was already known, I still found myself being anxious as the court papers exchanged hands. It was like the public, especially the viewers in the gallery, were watching an intense tennis match as the documents passed back and forth from Mrs. Robertson, to the bailiff, to the foreperson, to Judge Ito, and finally back to Mrs. Robertson again.
The blending of actual documentary footage of people around the world anxiously anticipating the verdict with the show’s courtroom depiction made this moment all the more genuine. After the infamous words of “not guilty” are uttered, there are several split screens showing different people’s reactions. Simpson and Cochran of course are ecstatic, but Kardashian seems like he is going to vomit (which he later does). Interestingly, the split screen with Shapiro and Darden convey that, despite them being on opposite sides of the case, both lawyers were enraged and had discontent for the decision. As they have throughout the entire show, the Goldmans’ cries of agony and pain remind the audience that two families were denied justice in this moment.The only thing that did not quite work in this scene was the abrupt introduction of Nicole’s parents; they hadn’t been introduced previously in the show and the audience was just made to infer who they were by their reaction to the verdict.
Begrudgingly, Garcetti, Clark, and Darden give a press conference to address O.J. not being convicted. Obviously lying, Darden states that he respects the jury’s decision and is not bitter or angry. He attempts to thank the lawyers on the prosecution team, but he breaks down mid-sentence and hugs Fred Goldman. Clark urges domestic violence victims to not be discouraged from seeking help and to not lose faith in the American justice system. However, this statement is undermined when she later reveals that she has in fact lost confidence in the law. Due to her being a rape victim, Clark has always considered justice to be vengeance for victims. Clark feels that the Simpson jury did not want the same. She decides to quit the DA’s office and Darden follows suit. Conversely, I completely understand Clark’s position but she still did not comprehend that the jury viewed Simpson as a potential victim as well. With the copious amount of discrimination wielded against black people in America, it did not seem far fetched to the jury that a racist cop would frame a black man for murder simply because he is black.
Nevertheless, I agree with the sentiment that Darden conveys to Cochran. The jury (especially the man who saluted Simpson with the black power fist) and The Dream Team may view O.J. getting off as a civil rights milestone, but what did it really accomplish for the black community? As apparent by the need for the Black Lives Matter movement, African Americans are still facing unjust treatment and shootings from law enforcement. I am not sure if this conversation between Darden and Cochran really happened, but regardless I enjoyed the utilization of this exchange to portray such an important message to the audience.
In the following scene, Darden seemingly is proven wrong when a news anchor reports that Cochran had exposed the hidden practices of excessive force performed by the police and that the justice department has plans to launch an investigation of the LAPD. At the end of the episode, however, it is revealed that Fuhrman is the only person convicted on charges stemming from the Simpson case. So it does beg the question, what positive impact, if any, did the O.J. Simpson trial have on the black community?
The Juice Is Loose, But…
After his release, O.J. travels back to his Rockingham home, however he does not receive the warm welcome he was expecting. Similar to during the Bronco chase, people gathered outside Simpson’s house with signs, but this time it was in protest rather than in the spirit of fandom. His son Jason giving him a dog to ensure Simpson would always have a friend further foreshadows O.J.’s new decline in notoriety and status. No longer is Simpson able to book a table at the most exclusive clubs in L.A. And Kato and his friends from the golf club were MIA at the-I-just-got-away-with-double-homicide-party. Instead the attendees were composed mainly of strangers looking for a lousy hour of recognition. Yearning for support from anyone he knew pre-trial, Simpson even mistakes a waiter as a former golf partner.
Even with his home being filled with fame-hungry people, Simpson is still able to further alienate himself from the public by making a tactless statement regarding searching for Nicole and Ron’s murder(s). With a look of bewilderment, AC finally seems to start to doubt O.J.’s innocence. This is the last straw for Kardashian and he tells Jason that he is done before he storms out. It says plenty about Simpson’s character that the people closest to him believed that he was guilty while some strangers enamored and blinded by his fame considered him to be innocent. While in jail, Simpson received letters, Bibles and even money from fans but his own friend of twenty years disowned him.
The series ends with a gloomy Simpson staring at the ostentatious statue of himself as he reflects on his prestige that is now surely a thing of the past. Even though O.J. was found not sentenced to prison, he lost something more precious to him than his freedom: his prominent image. Simpson received no future endorsements and was shunned from several golf courses. O.J. was perceived as guilty in the court of public opinion and ultimately became a social pariah. For a narcissist like O.J. Simpson, this was a punishment worse than incarceration.
Eh, What’s Up Doc?
Here are a few facts from the A&E documentary entitled “The Secret Tapes of the O.J. Case: The Untold Story,” Dateline’s “The People vs. OJ Simpson: What the Jury Never Heard,” the Investigation Discovery (I.D.) documentary entitled “O.J: Trial of the Century,” and the I.D. show entitled Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals episode “O.J. Simpson: Kato Speaks” that pertain to the finale:
- Lawrence Schiller convinced O.J. to answer this fan mail by writing a book entitled I Want to Tell You — My Response to Your Letters, Your Messages, Your Questions.
- The defense actually had 22 witnesses to testify, although it seems they had already won the case during the prosecution portion of the trial.
- The O.J. trial is the longest murder trial ever held in the state of CA. At least 150 million people tuned in to hear the verdict live on air. Even trading in the New York stock exchange plummeted 41% when the verdict was aired.
- The case cost nearly $20 million to fight and defend and has been estimated to have generated more than $1 billion dollars in media and merchandise.
- After the verdict, Fred Goldman gave this heart-wrenching statement:“June 13, 1994 was the worst nightmare of my life. This is the second.”
Where are they now?
- Fred and Kim Goldman founded the Ronald Goldman Foundation for Justice to help other victims of crime and their families. Kim wrote a book about people in public cases called “Media Circus: A Look at Private Tragedy in the Public Eye.” She also now has a son, whose middle name is Ronald.
- Denise Brown founded the Nicole Brown Foundation to support battered women.
- Sydney and Justin Simpson each have established themselves in the restaurant business.
- In addition to his law firm, Johnnie Cochran, Jr.’s legacy lives on through a middle school in L.A. that is named after him.
- Detective Phil Vannatter died in 2012.
- Detective Ton Lange is now retired and lives outside of L.A.
- Carl Douglas still practices law and has a small shrine to Cochran in his office.
- The once mostly white LAPD is now more racially representative of the city it polices.
OJ’s Future Shenanigans
- Ross Becker conducted an interview with Simpson post-trial. The video was sold on TV through an 1-800 number. Astonishingly, O.J. stated that he planned to speak to women’s groups about domestic violence. Simpson also displayed his lack of empathy for the Goldmans by proclaiming that he lost more than just a loved one; he lost his life. “I am the only person who lost anything financially and the taxer payers of this state. I don’t see anybody paying the tax payers or me back.”
- The bloody shoe prints at the crime scene were matched to a particular type of Italian shoe, Bruno Magli shoe. Simpson always denied that he owned a pair: “I would have never worn those ugly-ass shoes.” However, approximately 30 photos with O.J wearing Bruno Maglis surfaced during the Goldman civil trial.
- To make money ($600,00 advance) after his house went into foreclosure, Simpson wrote a book with a ghost writer named Pablo Fenjves entitled, “If I did it: Confession of the Killer.” Adding insult to injury, Simpson assassinated Nicole’s character in the book and portrayed her as a terrible wife and mother. The minor responsibility O.J. takes for the crime is suggesting that he must have lost it and blacked out. Thankfully, Fred Goldman was awarded the rights to the book.
- Through pathetic tears, O.J. made the following statement during his sentencing for robbery in 2008: “I wasn’t there to hurt anybody. I just wanted my personal things. I realize I was stupid and I am sorry. I didn’t mean to steal anything from anybody. And I didn’t know I was doing anything illegal. I was confronting friends and retrieving my property.” The judge, however, was not misled and accused Simpson of stealing the memorabilia in order to selfishly keep it away from the Goldmans.
If Paulson, Brown, and Vance are not at least nominated for Emmys, then watch out for the Hollywood riots. But seriously, this show was exceptionally entertaining, informative, and has sparked discussion pertaining to the flaws of American society. To the Goldmans and Browns’ dismay, the trial of the century became about so much more than the murders of Nicole and Ron.
The case and the reaction to the verdict unveiled the ugly consequences that racism has caused in this country. Due to the unfair treatment and unjust incarceration of black people in the United States, the African American community rejoiced in Simpson being declared innocent (even if they suspected that he was guilty). As Darden stated, O.J. was the first person in American history to be acquitted of a crime because he was black instead of being convicted for the same reason. Regardless of race, if a person kills two people, then we all should wish to see him or her incarcerated. However, when our justice system is prone to unjustly convicting people of color and allows crimes against minorities to go unpunished, then a desire for justice among marginalized people, regardless of guilt or innocence, is fostered. Beyond trending hashtags and funny memes, I hope this series brought social awareness to people as it has for me.
TPvOJS-E10 = 10/10