The People Vs O.J. Simpson Episode Eight: ‘A Jury In Jail’ [Fact-Checking Spoiler]

The People Vs O.J. Simpson is winding down into its last few episodes, condensing a year’s worth of excruciating subplots into a ten-hour miniseries. Until now, the plot points have concentrated primarily on the inner workings of the court: The media-beleaguered prosecution, the fame-giddy judge, the defense and its posturing and sparring for control. But tonight, the curtain was lifted on the court’s underbelly: The jury.

The People Vs O.J. Simpson packs a lot of information into a tightly-woven, compelling story. Entertainment Weekly said the real Marcia Clark told Larry King its details were “so accurate it was painful to watch.”

The courtroom scenes are familiar to a public who was glued to its TVs in 1995 when it all happened. Then for years, scenes that replayed over and over, like the Bronco chase, Nicole Brown Simpson’s desperate 911 call, and the pivotal glove-fitting moment.

But in the whole cast of characters, the jury was anonymous. Episode 8 of the series, aptly titled “A Jury In Jail,” opens with jury members embroiled in battle amongst themselves.

Unlike other parts of the story, we weren’t witness to most of the jury’s drama. Here is a short list of what really happened and what is embellishment.

  1. The jury was sequestered for ten months, and they went stir-crazy.

This is true. As Vanity Fair pointed out, “It’s Day 124 of a trial that was supposed to last just two months, and people clearly just want to go home.”

Even at that point, they were barely halfway through the ordeal. The O.J. Simpson Trial broke the record for the longest sequestered jury in history, with a total of a whopping 265 days. They were under 24-hour surveillance, separated from family and friends, and later, each other. They were allowed one conjugal visit per week, and they were forbidden access to any newspapers or other types of media.

“This is like some kind of experimental torture or something.”

Judge Ito finally began arranging some respite for them: a trip to the theatre, a hot air balloon ride, a basketball game. At the game, though, they were recognized, and had to leave when someone shouted to the group, “O.J.’s guilty!”

2. People lied on their questionnaires in order to be part of the “Trial of the Century.”

Partly true. According to a fact-checking article in Rolling Stone, the questionnaire for jury selection for the O.J. Trial consisted of 80 pages. There were a total of 294 questions, such as, “Have you ever asked a celebrity for an autograph?” and, “What do you think is the main cause of domestic violence?”

When answering, jurors were not always forthcoming with details about their lives. One left out the fact that she had been in an abusive relationship. There were other accidental issues that arose later, such as a woman who shared the same doctor as O.J. One by one, they were whittled down until there were only two alternates left.

3. One juror was so stressed out by the sequestration that she had a nervous breakdown in the hotel.

False. Writers embellished Tracy Hampton’s meltdown. They had her running through the hotel lobby and being tackled by deputies. She did beg Judge Ito to let her go home on several occasions. He finally allowed it. The day after she left the trial, she had an anxiety attack and was hospitalized.

However, she posed for Playboy a few months later, so she presumably recovered.

4. Gil Garcetti flipped out over the glove issue.

False. The episode shows Garcetti having what Vanity Fair describes as “one of the episode’s major breakdowns,” screaming at his prosecutors.

“No one understands goddamn DNA, Marcia, but everyone can tell when a goddamn glove doesn’t fit on a goddamn hand.”

Marcia Clark maintained that Chris Darden received much moral support after the glove episode and that Garcetti handled himself with professionalism. But it was a good opportunity for a little drama in the show.

4. Barry Scheck dismantled Dennis Fung’s DNA evidence, then Fung received hugs and handshakes from the defense team, including O.J.

Yes, that really happened.

There isn’t a need to embellish much with The People Vs. O.J. Simpson. The truth is rife with all the elements that make a compelling story. The engaging thing about this miniseries has been that we all know the facts, and yet somehow we are still mesmerized. It’s that good.

The question is, with the upcoming two episodes, and the verdict we all know so well, will the show be able to maintain its punch?

[Image via Richard Shotwell/Associated Press]