The Trial of the Last Century

Having watched the excellent ten part The People v O.J. Simpson on TV, marred only by the miscasting of Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ- in this critic’s eyes he’s too small to play the part, I read the book that the series was based on. The book is a real clichéd page turner. I’m not undermining the book by saying that. It is a comprehensive recount of the tragedy.

We can all recall the events of the trial and the pre-trial low speed chase when it actually happened but in hindsight this case really was something else. The book could easily pass as a piece of fiction. It’s got all the potboiler ingredients. I could name four dozen plays that would make a first down. There were dysfunctional prosecuting lawyers, duelling with themselves defense lawyers, a vain judge, a Brentwood Hello (don’t ask), racist cops, barking dogs, DNA experts (unheard of at the time), OJ’s hanger-ons, the first public awareness of the name Kardashian, XtraLarge gloves that didn’t fit, a biased jury and on and on I could go on. As the writer weaves the reader through all the entanglements it’s easy to forget that two people were murdered.

There are lots of asides in the book that the TV show missed. When the National Enquirer ran topless photos of the prosecutor, Marcia Clark, she was so humiliated she sobbed in court. Her co-prosecutor, Scott Gordon, quick as a flash jotted down a response on the paper next to her. “The Enquirer was going to publish the same photos of me but Greenpeace wouldn’t let them do it”. This made Clark smile.

The verdict went in Simpson’s favor, though once a rogue always a rogue. He is currently serving a jail term for armed robbery and kidnapping. His luck might have run out but never forget that this was a bad man that got away with a double murder.

4 thoughts on “The Trial of the Last Century”

  1. It was all bollocks. Everyone knew that he was guilty, they just were afraid of having another riot. Even most black people knew that he was guilty — they were just overjoyed that someone beat “the system” by playing it against itself.

  2. Spot on, Christopher. The defence was based completely on the race card. In the aftermath of the trial, defence lawyer Robert Shapiro, remarked “Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.” The duelling defenders all fell out with one another.

  3. It was a train-wreck. OJ Simpson was found “liable” for the deaths at the civil trial that followed and had to pay compensation. His reputation was ruined and he became a laughing stock. The defence all hated each other and the prosecution, although it lost the criminal case, won a moral victory.

  4. It’s time the ‘race’ card was removed from the pack. I’d also like to see the ‘gender’ card similarly obliterated.

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