Nearly 20 years have passed since the original verdict was rendered, but the immense popularity of FX’s recent mini-series The People Vs. OJ Simpson showcased the public’s still fervid fascination with “The Trial of The Century.” Over the course of ten intensely gripping weeks, an all-star cast headed by Cuba Gooding Jr., John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Courtney B. Vance, and Sarah Paulson expertly played out the courtroom proceedings that dominated the world’s center stage two decades prior.
Though much has changed since October 3, 1995, the one constant surrounding the Simpson verdict is the polarizing degree to which his supporters and detractors vehemently argue his innocence or guilt.
Following a seismic ruling in late 1995, OJ Simpson was found not-guilty of murdering both Nicole Brown (Simpson’s former wife) and her companion Ronald Goldman. Many, however, perceived the verdict as an indictment against the much-maligned LAPD’s questionable practices rather than a full-fledged acknowledgement of Simpson’s innocence.
Simpson’s “dream team” legal ensemble, composed of the late Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian Sr., Robert Shapiro, and Alan Dershowitz, expertly poked sufficient holes in the defense’s case; enough to persuade the jury to allow him to walk out a free man.
Concerning the jury’s inability to convict Orenthal James Simpson beyond a reasonable doubt, juror Yolanda Crawford had these comments for Meredith Vieira:
“I felt like we followed the instructions of the judge and the system and it called for a not guilty verdict because, I want to say, of the reasonable doubt.”
Much of the momentum for Simpson’s acquittal was born from lead defense attorney Marcia Clark’s now infamous call to use Detective Mark Fuhrman as her star witness. Fuhrman was by all accounts a monumental disaster for the cause of the defense. While on stand, the 20-year member of the L.A.P.D. perjured himself, pled the dreaded Fifth Amendment when asked if he had manufactured or planted evidence, and perhaps most damning of all, was clearly heard by a worldwide audience confessing to a plethora of startling on-duty misconduct via recordings.
In regards to those now fateful taped interviews, interviewee Laura Hart McKinny publicly described her interaction with Fuhrman for the first time with these long-awaited comments for Vanity Fair.
“I haven’t given interviews ever in the years since the trial,” McKinny told VF.com in a phone interview. “To speak about it, for me, would suggest that I thought that I was a victim or I went through a traumatic event or poor me.” While watching the popular FX rendition showcasing words plucked directly from her interviews with Fuhrman, McKinny said she felt “chills.”
Indeed, most of the viewing audience both in 2016 and 1995 felt overwhelming chills as Fuhrman graphically recounted his gruesome acts of misconduct for McKinny’s planned expose’ concerning the LAPD.
Simpson’s marvelously constructed defense team played a major hand dealt them by focusing on both Fuhrman’s incredulity as a witness and misgivings as an officer. In the end, enough jurors were finally persuaded to acquit Simpson after Fuhrman’s shocking refusal to answer the simple question of whether he had manufactured evidence against Simpson.
Many in L.A. (and worldwide) celebrated the OJ Simpson acquittal as a major boon for racial justice in America. Unfortunately, to this day, the question of who snuffed out the lives of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman remains far from answered.
Many feel as though OJ Simpson was gifted an unjust verdict. Many feel just the opposite. The one thing that is certain, though, is that none of the key players from the “trial of the century” have a life unaltered from the events of that historic legal proceeding.
Perhaps most ironic of all, OJ Simpson — though proven innocent by a jury of his peers in a court of law — has suffered the greatest downturn in fortunes regarding anyone still living from that fateful trial. Once a revered athlete, actor, spokesman, and adored member of Americana, Simpson currently is confined to Lovelock Correctional Center on charges stemming from a 2007 armed robbery attempt.
Through the years, Simpson has denied any culpability in the tragic deaths of his former wife and Ronald Goldman. Many of Simpson’s closest friends, such as Kato Kaelin and the late Robert Kardashian Sr. (father of Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Rob Jr.), turned a cold shoulder to “The Juice” shortly after the trial.
OJ Simpson will be eligible for parole in 2017.
[Pool Photo/Getty Images]