I don’t remember what I was doing on June 12, 1994 when the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were found brutally stabbed outside Nicole’s Condominium. I do remember, as do quite a few people, what I was doing on July 17, 1994 when O.J. Simpson was acting as any innocent person would. Instead of turning himself in on murders charges he decided to take the police on a low-speed “pursuit” which interrupted the 1994 NBA Finals.
I was working for an engineering company at the time and was at a company golf outing at Carriage Greens Country Club in Darien, IL. We were in the lounge in the clubhouse with the basketball game on when all of a sudden all eyes were on what would later become the iconic image of, O.J. Simpson’s white Ford Bronco leading a virtual parade of flashing red and blue lights.
I wasn’t a cop at the time but had wanted to be one since high school. What transpired in the media and in the courtroom in the following months helped me to make the decision to become an officer three years later and actually acted in many ways as pre-academy training.
Even at 27 years old, I still had this childish innocence when it came to how I viewed our judicial system. We have been fed this image of lady justice holding the balanced scales and that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. I am not talking about getting a parking ticket taken care of by a local precinct captain, which happened fairly frequently when I was growing up or getting out of a speeding ticket because you happen to drop a cop’s name (which doesn’t always work by the way). I’m talking about the charge of 1st degree murder.
This was a crime of premeditated, passionate murder. Nicole Simpson was first stabbed in the neck and the head with a 6 inch knife and then struck in the head hard enough to cause an injury to her brain. Ron Goldman probably arrived at this point to return a pair of glasses and he was slashed twice across the throat and then fatally stabbed in the heart and lung. The killer then returned to Nicole who was, according to a coroner’s report, lying face down. The killer then placed a foot on her back and pulled her head back by her hair. The right-handed killer than took the blade and cleanly (there was no resistance by the victim at this point) drew the knife with such force as to severe all the major arteries and to cut completely through the front of her throat clear through to her spine. We can only hope that she was unconscious at this point. We do know that her heart continued to beat for several minutes due to the amount of bleeding at the scene.
Surely this was a crime for which our justice system was created and this would be its shining moment. Unfortunately it wasn’t even a dim glimmer.
It was probably during this time that I was first introduced to the true purpose of the criminal defense attorney or in O.J.’s case a defense “team”. On the surface we think of a defense attorney as one who champions the cause of the wrongly accused and presents a case to a jury showing the innocence of their client. While I do know quite a few very well intentioned defense attorneys this is sadly not always the case. What do you do when the evidence points overwhelmingly to your client? You personally attack everyone presenting the evidence. You try your best to confuse and misdirect the jury. You use the fact that a black man is accused of killing two white people and try to turn Americans against one another. You do everything in your power to direct the negative attention away from your client and onto the evil, conspiring, racist hordes who are trying to conduct a modern day lynching of one of our most beloved sports heroes and actors. Really? Yes, Really and quite effectively I must add.
I learned a boat load from Mark Fuhrman’s ill-fated testimony that resulted in the only felony criminal conviction to come out of the 8 month trial, Fuhrman’s perjury conviction. I leaned that defense attorneys, as well as cops, never ask a question they don’t already have an answer to. It is their job to trip you up on your testimony and the smallest of slips can be disastrous. Mark Fuhrman’s mistake was that he committed to a hard fast number, a very black and white (no pun intended, seriously) statement that defense attorney’s dream about. Legendary defense attorney F. Lee Bailey asked Mr. Fuhrman if he had previously used the word “nigger”. Yes I hate that word as well and I don’t know many words that invoke such hatred and emotional response but that is precisely the reason Bailey used it. Fuhrman never denied that he had previously used that word and it is amazing that Judge Ito even allowed this line of questioning since it had no relevance to the case. A racial conspiracy was never shown and there was no evidence that Fuhrman or other officers’ actions in responding to a murder scene were racially motivated. However the judge allowed it and Fuhrman’s black and white answer wasn’t a simple yes but was a qualifying statement that he hadn’t used the term in “10 years”. Oops! It’s possible that Bailey was hoping that Fuhrman would have said that he had never used the term but 10 years was just as good. Why? Because the defense had an audio tape of Fuhrman being interviewed 9 years before by writer, Laura Hart McKinny, who was working on a screenplay about female officers.
How can we believe anything that this racist liar and all of his racist liar friends in uniform have to say at this point? If his answer to Bailey’s answer was a simple “yes” and not qualified with the number 10 the entire trial could have turned out differently. Suddenly the L.A. police and prosecutors were on trial and not O.J. Simpson. Mission accomplished.
It was great training for a young cop and helped me immeasurably when I had testified in court. Of course nobody is immune to being tripped up and I was tripped up by a good defense attorney when in a drug possession case the defendant was found not guilty because in my report I had written that when the defendant opened his car door quickly in an attempt to hit me with the door I had jumped back. In my testimony the defense attorney had asked me how far I had jumped back and I answered “ a couple of steps”. At his point the defense attorney confused the jury by saying, “Officer, you wrote in your report that you had jumped back and now you are telling us that you took a couple of steps. Did you lie in your report or are you lying now? I should have answered with “2 feet” instead of “2 steps” but that was the end of that case. Mission accomplished.
It also taught me that whether a defendant was guilty or not relied not so much on whether or not they actually committed a crime but rather on the resourcefulness of the defense attorney. My partner and I had lost a drug possession case because of the height of a stop sign. We were driving our squad car and witnessed a car completely blow a stop sign. We pulled it over and the driver was driving on a revoked driver’s license for previous D.U.I.s. We arrest the driver and found cocaine in his possession and in his vehicle. The attorney (fully aware of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine)before the trial went out and measured the height of the stop sign. Stop signs were required by law to be 7 feet in height. This particular stop sign was 2 inches short. Therefore the initial stop was unlawful and anything found subsequent to the stop was inadmissible. Never mind that this scumbag was driving on a revoked driver’s license in order to get to his next drug deal. The real criminal was the stop sign and those damn cops that intentionally went around making stop signs virtually invisible by making them only 6’ 10” tall and therefore trapping these otherwise law-abiding victims. I have to say that I was impressed by the resourcefulness of the attorney.
So forget the bloody shoeprints made by the mysterious killer which were matched to extremely rare and extremely expensive size 12 (Simpson’s size) Bruno Magli shoes of which only 299 were sold in the United States and the 1993 photo of Simpson wearing the shoes and which were suddenly no longer in his possession. (The Defense claimed the photo had been doctored but had no proof that is was)
Forget the D.N.A. evidence that showed Goldman’s, Nicole’s and Simpson’s blood at the scene of the crime, in his Ford Bronco and on his socks (20 stains) (The Defense claimed that all D.N.A evidence was contaminated because one evidence technician, Dennis Fung, had failed to use rubber gloves on occasion when collecting the evidence even though Fung’s D.N.A was never found in any of the samples)
Forget the left hand bloody glove that contained Simpson’s, Nicole’s and Goldman’s D.N.A. that was found at the scene of the crime and the matching right hand glove with the same D.N.A found at Simpson’s home. (The Defense claimed that the glove was obviously planted at O.J.’s house by Detective Fuhrman who Johnnie Cochran referred to as “a genocidal racist, a perjurer, America’s worst nightmare and the personification of evil”)
Forget the eight previous calls to the Simpson estate for domestic disputes and allegations by Nicole herself that she was afraid that O.J. might kill her or the eight missed opportunities by these racist conspiring cops to arrest O.J. previous to the murders.
The case also taught me that justice is not equal along economic lines as well. O.J. had the money to afford this dream team of defense attorneys including F. Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Gerald Uelmen, Carl E. Douglas, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld and that doesn’t include the army of researchers and paralegals. The defense has said to have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million to $6 million. It takes lots of money to confuse the facts and redirect a jury and only the privileged few can afford it.
The case taught me that with enough money and media spin Americans can be turned against one another fairly easily. The scenes broadcast from around the country at the reading of the not guilty verdict were sickening. Not so much that there were people that still believed he was innocent or people that felt he was getting away with murder but they way the media depicted large groups of African Americans celebrating while groups of predominantly Caucasian persons were looking shocked or disappointed. The media had fed into the race card as quickly as the jury. This sad fact is not only known to attorneys wearing expensive suits or murderers wearing fancy Italian shoes but is also very well known by our elected officials. If you want to turn the nation’s attention away from the important issues at hand give them something to fight about. Black vs. White, Democrat vs. Republican, Christian vs. Muslim vs. Jew.
Finally, the case has taught me that justice will eventually be served. I was always and still am of the opinion that I would rather see a thousand guilty people go free than one innocent person convicted. We as citizens of this world have to be concerned with the real issues at hand with the world, our country and each other and not be distracted by those who wish us to be distracted. It doesn’t matter if that distraction is fed to us by a government official, religious leader, wealthy businessman, popular celebrity or even a well spoken attorney in a fancy suit.
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