Trial of The Century or Race Card Well Played?

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In being glued to the television each Tuesday nights for several weeks, I’ve re-lived the O.J. Simpson Trial like millions of others.  It was a time and a trial that not many who were caught up in, will ever forget.

Brilliantly casted, the mini-series, The People vs O.J. Simpson on FX network, was a smash success that has left others, like Martin Sheen, wanting in on the money and glory with his own version which will give reasons why O.J. was likely not guilty on ESPN.

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With stars like Cuba Gooding Jr. playing the part of O.J. Simpson and having a few small similarities, the rest of the cast was pretty much stellar.  John Travolta played his part as Dream Team Defence Attorney, Robert Shapiro while David Schwimmer of “Friends fame” played the part of “Robert Kardashian”, O.J.’s long time friend until the trial ended.  For a complete list of characters, you can view them here, on Wikipedia.

While the cast of actors not only closely resembled the players in this nearly 22-year-old case and, was based upon a book written by Jeffrey Toobin, “The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson”, there were factual accounts but, also a lot of non-factual drama written in around those facts.

However, in re-living what was considered “The Trial of The Century” it became clear that all of the key attorneys in this case, had long since moved on with their lives or, their lives had ended.  Robert Kardashian had died from cancer in approximately 2003 and Johnnie Cochran had passed on in approximately 2005 with a rare form of a brain tumour. Even Marcia Clark, lead prosecuting attorney in the case, had left her job to pursue a career in writing novels, mostly fictional mystery work.  It appears that most of them have left the trial behind them and do not consider the case anywhere near the idea of “the trial of the century”.

Most of those us who followed the case as it was happening, remember the infamous Bronco chase, the gloves that didn’t appear to fit over latex gloves that O.J. wore while trying them on and seemed to do everything to not make them fit.  The ever famous line of “if they don’t fit, you must acquit”, uttered by defence attorney J. Cochran, will forever ring in our minds.

What won’t be forgotten was that 2 lives Nicole Brown Simpson and friend, Ronald Goldman, were brutally ended in a horrific manner of stab and slash, leaving a trail of evidence which included DNA, directly linking the suspect in this case to the murder scene, was tossed out the window by overwhelmed jurors who had been sequestered for months out of their lives with a “not guilty” verdict on both counts of murder within less than 4 hours which included a lunch break.

More than anything, it was clear to see both at the time as well as on this remake of the trial, that what went down with that jury’s decision had several parts to it that caused them to render that not guilty verdict.

Firstly, the final jury was predominantly Black Americans who were in the throes of the Rodney King beatings and riots in L.A..  Black Rights were uppermost in the media and therefore, in their minds.

Secondly, defence attorney, Johnnie Cochran, leading what was considered “The Dream Team” being of the Black Community himself, had his own agenda towards Black Rights and used the Race Card to its fullest as both a defence as well as a soap box.  It worked well on the predominantly Black jury members as well as in the public.  Most Black Community members didn’t see O.J. as guilty or if they did, didn’t want him to be found guilty, while most of the White Community, saw him as overwhelmingly guilty, gasping in total disbelief as the verdict was read in real-time from the court room that day.

Thirdly, the fact that the jury was able to overlook the entire DNA and blood evidence presented in that case by placing blame on a racist cop (Mark Fuhrman) but, look at a pair of gloves that didn’t allegedly fit and set him free in such a short deliberation after months of evidence, says that there was likely going to be an acquittal possibly even without much of a trial, given the jury’s make-up of predominantly Black Americans and Cochran’s Race Card play throughout the trial and outside of the courtroom.  Once they’d seen those gloves not seemingly fitting and heard Fuhrman’s testimony, there was nothing else they needed to hear and they seemed to have dismissed everything else presented.

Fourthly, in this case, having a Black prosecuting attorney couldn’t have won any Brownie Points with the jury as many of the Black jurors could have looked upon Chris Darden as an “Uncle Tom” or, a “sell-out to the White Community”.  It was already a no-win situation in that aspect of things.  Add to the mix, the fact that Marcia Clark was a woman and you’ve got biases by the truck load.

What makes this case ironic is that while it was the Race Card that had a big role in getting Simpson off, Simpson didn’t see himself as being Black.  As much as it was played up that Fuhrman was a racist cop who hated seeing a White woman (Nicole) with a Black man (Simpson), the opposite could also hold true whereby the Black community saw Simpson as a traitor for marrying a White woman.  Ironically, that was overshadowed by the Race Card that Cochran played so very well.  All that jury really needed to give  that acquittal were the gloves not fitting over latex gloves or, Simpson not allowing them to fit and, Fuhrman, the racist cop.  Game over with those 2 things.

Consider the fact that Simpson had mainly White friends, was wealthy and lived in a wealthy area, partying with wealth and Whites and you’ve got the picture of a Black man who didn’t see himself as a member of the Black community first nor, foremost.  He was a wealthy, famous, sports figure in his own mind.  End of story for him so, the entire Race Card for Simpson was nothing more than a ploy or legal tactic from his “Dream Team” legal counsellors.

From my little corner of life, nothing else prosecutors could have done would have stopped that “not guilty” verdict.  It was a no-win situation whereby, even if they had have held and played a form of a race card themselves, they couldn’t have won this case.  O.J. was untouchable because of who he was…Black and a super star sports hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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