No escape for OJ

oj-book11I have written earlier here that, as an old and wise criminal defense lawyer, Tom Fagen, of Casper, Wyoming, once said to me, “You can never beat the big one.” He was referring to murder.  He meant that a jury can acquit, or for other reasons an accused may never be convicted, but the accused cannot escape the consequences of his act. The murderer will end up destroyed in one way or another – if nothing more definitive than suffering a tortured, pain-filled life.

This axiom applies to O.J. I have always held mixed feelings about his acquittal for the murders of two innocent people. There is little doubt in my mind that he committed the murders.  But I thought the verdict of acquittal was understandable given the tenor of the prosecution presented by Marcia Clark – in my opinion a display of prosecutorial behavior that encouraged a predominately black jury to acquit. I wrote about this in some detail in my book, O.J. the Last Word.

Given the state of the collective American mind that O.J. was guilty of murder, O.J. could never hope to get a fair trial anywhere in this country today, even if an angel magically descended and proclaimed him to be innocent.

I do not argue that in his most recent trial for robbery he was not guilty. Out of disinterest I have not followed the case nor examined the evidence. The verdict may have been justified. But he was still entitled to a fair trial in this latest case which, given the state of universal public opinion, he could not receive.

And then there is the societal need for vengeance, which is a black spot on all of us. If he was guilty was his guilt determined by an unprejudiced jury? I say there was zero chance to empanel such a jury in this country today. Despite his acquittal it has become a cultural truth that O.J. Simpson is a murderer and people generally celebrated his conviction in this latest case without the slightest idea of whether he was guilty of not.

Is it all right for a guilty person to be convicted by jurors who are prejudiced against him? If so, this exposes a serious defect in the system, one as antithetical to justice as one that permits a guilty person to escape.


11 responses to “No escape for OJ

  1. Mr. Spence;

    As you stated in that book, “OJ: The Last Word”, the real tragedy was not what was happening in the Simpson trial, but what was happening in another courtroom within the LA Criminal Courts building, to another unknown black defendant, whose trial took all of nine days, if I remember correctly.

    The real injustice is that “celebrity” cases receive so much attention and analysis in our celebrity obsessed culture, when we dont give a damn about all the unknown, unnamed people and the justice (or lack thereof) that they receive.

    I think that it says a great deal about our culture, and values.

    Mr. Spence in your 50+ year career you have worked tirelessly to change this, to bring attention to it, and to recruit others to do the same. You are a true hero, in my estimation.


  2. Perhaps O.J.’s most recent trial falls into the “Postman Always Rings Twice” category. But seriously, you present a Catch-22. You state that O.J. Simpson could not receive a fair jury trial given the state of public opinon again him. I agree. But what is the alternative? No trial at all? Let him go? I think that as flawed as our system of justice might be, we have to go with it.

  3. Gideon points to Sanders and Boria as last ditch opportunities. Thoughts?

  4. I find it sad that O.J. Simpson was reduced to living vicariously through the small objects that celebrated his fame. The greed of possessions became his life’s focus.

    “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind”

    What do we have when we remove societal need for vengeance from the Law? Justice without human solace.

  5. Dear Gerry,

    It is interesting how life works sometimes. I had left some books in a box in my grandparents’ home. I lived with my grandfather for a short period of time before he died, which was soon after my grandmother died. I was helping my father deliver couch earlier tonight that we were giving away to one of my father’s employees. In the box, I found the copy of “O.J. The Last Word” that you signed for me in OKC on 11-18-97 advising this once very young not yet graying law student “to fight for the little people.” I took home your book and my John Adams biography and looked through them again tonight.

    I was re-reading Adams’ representation of the British soldiers after the Boston massacre. Your blog entry made me think about how those British soldiers couldn’t possibly get an impartial jury with the heat of the American jurors’ passions for revenge and “justice”. But, Adams fought for the hated British soldiers. I sometimes wonder if he really believed that the jury could be fair no matter how persuasive, honest and zealous a defense he could give them. I still believe that it is the best system in the world and those twelve individuals in the box still do the right thing most of the time even if it’s not always readily apparent and sometimes overcoming their own extreme prejudices. Of course this isn’t always the case, but what is the alternative?

    As long as we still have a imperfect system of imperfect lawyers and imperfect and sometimes prejudiced juries, we are far better off than the alternative nightmare of disinterested and “unbiased” judges deciding people’s fates. To answer your rhetorical question, it’s not all right for a guilty person to be convicted by jurors that are prejudiced against him, but at least he has a fighting chance with any citizen jury instead of a government official. I hope I am not lying to myself because I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all otherwise.

    Thanks for being one of the best ever in fighting for the little people and helping to preserve freedom.


  6. The glove fits now, doesn’t it, O.J.? You can never beat the big one.

    Innocent men are convicted and guilty men are set free.

    Sometimes the pieces to the puzzle just don’t fit.

  7. Dear Mr. Spence,

    I’m just now reading your book, entitled “Give Me Liberty” it has stimulated deep thought indeed, thank you. I am learning a great deal.

    On the matter of the OJ trial, I agree, he could not get a fair tiral, it was obvious that no matter what, Oj had to be taken down for revenge.

    It reminds me of a few weeks ago I saw a talking head give a news brief from the State Dept. He mentioned the chollera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and right after, he said” Mugabe has got to go” as if Mugabe
    created chollera. He failed to mention the fact that Great Britian has had sanctions on Zimbabwe for over a decade.

    Yes, OJ as stupid as he is, was doomed, being a Black man, with money and fame, accused of murdering a “white women” nothing has changed in amerikkka. In Greenwood, Archer & Pine, a whole city “progressive Black city” was bombed based on the same allegations, and the result was mass graves.

    Nothing much has changed in the land of freedom, where I was born in captivity, and a nationality imposed on me.

    Although I must state, I do not feel sorry for OJ, he could have left this country, but he stayed to play with more
    “white women”.
    Now, if you want to think about the in-justice system in amerikkka, think about the Jena 6, who are today still behind bars, and the thousands of homeless still sleeping on the streets of new Orleans.

    Cynthia Mckinney just recently reported that 5000 mostly Black males where executed, with bullets in the back of their heads and that this was confirmed by the “Red Cross”

    Afrikan Captive Survivor Refugee

    • Richard, this is a first class horror. Wish I could help. Not enough of me to go around.
      Your story makes me ill. My own experience is that there are bad apples in the basket. Yes. This was surely one of them.


  8. Gerry: I agree Marcia Clark lost a case she could have won. She Did Not know her jury. She conducted herself as if the jury wasn’t even there. Most days she acted and dressed like she was at a cocktail party. She seemed really interested in getting laid. But amazingly in some way she helped America to accept women lawyers as trial lawyers because foe millions of Americans it was the first time they had ever even seen it so go figure!!
    So very many women grads of TLC could have made a tremendously better job. How I wish the first woman trial lawyer to be observed by millions had been one if us.

  9. I need to say more about Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Her performance exemplifies the need to know yourself through psychodrama and self acceptance BEFORE you talk to the jury. She thought the case was about her hatred of wife beaters and she assumed because she had women on the jury that they would hate wife beaters too. So she thought she had a box full of wife beater haters. What she had was a box full of LAPD haters. Womenvwho had seen their daddies, brothers, sons abused by a crooked police force all their lives. I’m sure the women on that jury did not approve of wife beating but this was their time to say in their verdict that they hated the LAPD because they didn’t get to talk about it in voir dire!!

  10. OJ does not have the balls or skills it takes to decapitate two people with your own hands………he might have had the money and motive to hire someone else to do it, but as his latest jam illustrates he is no “enforcer” by any stretch of the imagination.

    The sound alone of a knife cutting through flesh, muscle, cartlige, veins and bone would be enough to make most harden criminals puke.

    Skin is extremely elastic and the intitial force it takes to puncture it is much more than most people realize. A first time throat slasher would have trouble trying to slit the throat of one person very effectively, let alone two people, with one of them being a young healthy male.

    This was a killing done with extreme precision, by someone with some experience at. No way in hell, IMHO that this murder was done by a “rookie” like OJ!!!

    It seems like after reading both Darden and Clarke’s book it was a cocktail party for them… least during evening recesses….blood stains with preservative in it….no problem, we will put on our detective who likes to practice his karate moves on “N!%%&R$” in the alley…………..they got out lawyered hard-FN-core, even if they had a good case!!!!

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