A Reporter's Perspective Of The OJ Simpson Trial, 20 Years Later - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Phil Shuman

A Reporter's Perspective Of The OJ Simpson Trial, 20 Years Later

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The marathon O.J. Simpson murder trial and subsequent civil lawsuit were milestone moments for me both as a news reporter and as a human being. It was a whirlwind few years that started in an ironic way for me.

I happened to be on a jury trial in the small Hollywood courthouse, on a nickel and dime bar assault case. We started the short trial the day the bodies of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were found. I was elected the foreman of that jury, and decided that we needed to wrap this trial up because I really needed to get back to work. That's what we did. Guilty.

From Gigi Graciette: Simpson-Goldman Murders: Case Closed?

FOX 11 Archives: Watch some of the archive footage of the Simpson-Goldman Murder Case from 1994
From Studio 11: Interview with Leo Terrell & Phil Shuman

Then the long ordeal began: from the bizarre Bronco chase (where an LAPD cop literally climbed into the driver’s seat of our live Channel Four News microwave truck and tried to move it off the Brentwood street while the mast was up) to the surrender, to the trial and the rickety ''Camp O.J." across Temple from the Criminal Courts Building, to the daily observances of the brilliant Dominick Dunne with his special green leather notebook and fountain pen, chatting with Harvey Levin one minute, Denise Brown the next, then O.J.'s elderly mother on the secure 9th floor, (his monthly columns in Vanity Fair were absolute must reads) to the shockingly short deliberations to the palpable anguish and anger of the Goldman family, (I was right behind Ron's sister Kim as she screamed as the verdict was read) to the awkwardness of Nicole’s sisters in trying to deal with O.J. and Nicole’s kids, the Denise Brown’s righteous attempts to advocate for battered women, to the racial divide the trial and it’s verdict exposed in the City and much of the country, to the anti climax civil lawsuit where which we covered from trailers in the parking lot of the Santa Monica Courthouse, with a cocky O.J. strolling in and out of court every day, knowing even if he lost, which he did, he'd never pay much, which he didn't. Of course, objective journalists that we are, we're not supposed to form an opinion about a defendant’s guilt or innocence, but in this case it was pretty hard not to. The circumstantial evidence was overwhelming, and if he didn't do it, who did? But one thing you have to remember is that the prosecution was outclassed, outmaneuvered, and outsmarted by Johnnie Cochran and his so called "Dream Team". I like Marcia Clarke personally and she is passionate and smart, but she came off as very shrill which jurors confirmed for me afterwards in interviews. Chris Darden, the architect of the disastrous glove try on "if it doesn't fit you must acquit" came across as angry and brooding, both of which he was and is. The jury was enamored of this superstar athlete, from USC, an NFL superstar, a Hertz airport hurdler, I mean who wanted to believe he was capable of brutally stabbing to death the mother of his children and a guy who had just come by to return her glasses she'd left at a restaurant. The prosecution didn't play to the jury, the defense did.

It was 100% Johnnie Cochran's show, and Judge Lance Ito tried to keep things under control, but barely did so. He was overwhelmed. Cochran essentially did what he wanted when he wanted. Misconduct? Not sharing potentially exculpatory evidence? Jury tampering? Hiding witnesses? Accusations all, never proven, but make Carl Douglass take the fall, and he did. I believe Robert Shapiro 100% made up the theory of the so called ''bloody glove'' being planted by the cops at O.J.'s house and sold it to the jury, aided by the disastrous testimony of Detective Mark Fuhrman and his use of the N word.

Corrupt cops? Possibly. DNA evidence mishandled by the LAPD? Possibly.

Add it all up and you have reasonable doubt more than a few ways, so according to the law the jurors did their job, even if they only deliberated for the blink of eye after months and months of testimony . Whether they made up their minds in advance or they were just following the law, it was clear near right after the glove debacle that O.J. was going to walk. Who knew he's walk into a Vegas prison years later and Cochran would die way too young.


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