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Profile of O.J. Simpson Trial
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Although O.J. was acquitted of criminal charges, the victims' families
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"If it doesn't fit, then you must acquit." And, so were the words of famed criminal defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, which was just one of many memorable moments during the trial of O.J. Simpson.Former professional football player Orenthal "O.J." Simpson was on trial for fatally stabbing his ex-wife and her male friend, creating one of the most sensational trials ever. The criminal trial occurred in 1995 and lasted well over eight months, which was one of the longest criminal trials in U.S. history to date. Not only were the crimes brutal, but O.J.'s journey to court was one for the tabloid press. It's hard to forget that infamous Ford Bronco pursuit down the Los Angeles 405 Freeway with the California Highway Patrol hot on his tail.The court case was televised and showed how legal dramas don't have to be fiction to be riveting. The publicity surrounding the case led to the jury being sequestered for the entire time. Today, the issue over jury sequestering continues, including other high-profile cases like Casey Anthony and Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's doctor.The trial was to determine if he was guilty of first degree murder. This is classified as a murder that was committed in a premeditated and purposeful way. The defense team was comprised of attorneys F. Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, and Robert Kardashian, Gerald Uelmen, E.G. Marshall, Carl E. Douglas and Johnnie Cochran. On the other side, the prosecution team was comprised of attorneys Marcia Clark, Christopher Darden, Gil Garcetti, Hank Goldberg and William Hodgman. Many involved in the case became celebrities, including the rather dramatic judge who presided over the trial, Judge Lance Ito. Even the trial attorneys on both sides became recognized and were pursued by the media.Although there was no murder weapon or witnesses to the crime, the prosecution had a strong case, supported by DNA evidence, and they felt confident of a conviction. Even forensic testimony pointed toward O.J., including some drops of blood found near his driveway, which was nearby to Nicole Brown-Simpson's townhouse. Testimony from numerous people also offered compelling evidence.However, the defense had their own strategy, discrediting people like LAPD Officer Mark Fuhrman as a racist and, therefore, not credible. The defense also hammered away at the evidence, focusing on inconsistencies like the fact that the bloody glove didn’t even fit O.J.'s hand. Suddenly, there was that shadow of a doubt. Because of the huge television following and the dramatic tactics used by the defense, the trial certainly became water cooler talk. It even went so far as to exacerbate race relations as O.J. Simpson is black and his ex-wife, Nicole, was white. O.J. was ultimately found not-guilty on all criminal charges of the murders of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. Many individuals believe that the prosecution mishandled the case details, including evidence that would have implicated Simpson. Although O.J. was acquitted of criminal charges, the victims' families did pursue civil charges, and in the civil case, he was found guilty and had to pay monetary restitution to the families of the victims.Reaction to the criminal and civil cases was strong and opinionated with many disagreements. In the end, there were no winners. O.J. Simpson, however, is now serving up to 33 years in state prison on a totally unrelated set of felonies. The defense team has also seen its share of tragedies -- of note, Robert Kardashian died of cancer in 2003. Yet, from the trial many book deals were made and certain characters like Kato Kaelin had their 15 minutes of fame. And, in many ways, this trial gave birth to the country's fascination with reality television.I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.
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