Two Sisters 20 Years Later

The 20th anniversary of everything O.J. Simpson murder trial is over, but some memories — and some who were part of lots of other peoples’ memories — are still making the news.

Enter Kim Goldman, sister of one of the Simpson-trial murder victims, Ronald Goldman. Kim is on a book tour, promoting her “Media Circus: A Look at Private Tragedy in the Public Eye.” Media Circus: A Look at Private Tragedy in the Public EyeThe book is a collection interviews with survivors of violent crimes who were the focus of media attention.

She was interviewed herself by Mike Dow for The Maine Edge/Buzz   in an article titled, “Kim Goldman 20 years after the Simpson verdict.

This isn’t the first book Kim has published since that infamous trial in 1995. She has also written, Can’t Forgive: My 20-Year Battle with O.J. Simpson and with other members of the Goldman family His Name is Ron: Our Search for Justice and I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.

More interesting, at least to me, is how some people whose lives were upended in a most tragic and unbelievable way by the June 17, 1994, murders of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown for which Brown’s ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, stood trial, have managed since Simpson’s Oct. 3, 1995, acquittal.

Kim has been on a quest to out Simpson as the killer and the 1995 trial verdict wrong.

Nicole Brown’s sister, Denise, has been busy, too. Her energies have gone toAbout Nicole Box creating a foundation to honor Nicole and to advocate against domestic violence.

It’s hard to imagine the anguish the Brown and Goldman families have gone through.


She’s Baaack! With Her Book

Dregs of the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial keep bubbling up more than 20 years after the verdicts in that trial. This time, it’s a book that has been published by the woman who outed the LAPD lead detective on the Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman murders case as a liar.

Mark Fuhrman had said in sworn testimony during the trial that he had never used the obscene label commonly used by bigots and racists when referring and/or addressing people of African descent.

Laura Hart McKinny, at Simpson’s defense attorneys’ behest, presented audio tapes she had recorded when she interviewed Fuhrman for her book that belied his testimony.

Her book is now available. Here, again, is the link to the Winston-Salem NC news article about her book launch:

The Simpson Trial is Like What?

OMG, what isn’t being compared to the O.J. Simpson trial these days!

One Fed official just compared the current debate about raising rates to the O.J. Simpson murder trial

“Dennis Lockhart, president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve, thinks the current debate about whether the Fed should raise rates is like the O.J. Simpson trial.”

It seemed like such a stretch, I had to read the story to find out how. Turns out the folks at Business Insider , which ran this story, don’t know.

New York Times reporter wanted to know if Lockhart “means he thinks the Fed will reach the wrong verdict, which seems about as good a guess as any.”

Or maybe Lockhart was referring to how long the nearly nine-month trial lasted, given that “the debate over whether the Fed should or should not raise interest rates…has now been raging for basically the last year.”

Maybe we’ll just have to wait for the book. Simpson’s, after he was acquitted in the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her acquaintance Ronald Goldman, was If I Did it.

Remote Trial Coverage

I read this article, “New Doc Features Black Journalists Who Covered OJ Simpson Trial,” expecting to see names of journalists I knew who covered the O.J. Simpson trial. I knew who attended it because I kept a daily list. Among the regulars were Andrea Ford, Dennis Schatzman, Janet Gilmore, Myra Ming, Bill Whitaker, and above all, photojournalist Haywood Galbreath, who was in court every day that trial was in session. Others attended from time to time as well.
While Star Jones, who is quoted in this story, did show up occasionally, although I remember her more from the Rodney King beating trial days, most of the people quoted in this story I never met or saw in the courtroom or in the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building 9th floor media center. I wondered after reading the story, why the writer, Matthew Carey, didn’t interview those who were there.
It’s a given he couldn’t have interviewed Andrea Ford or Dennis Schatzman, as both died years ago. (Schatzman, who reported for the African-American newspaper The Los Angeles Sentinel and made race the theme in his trial coverage, wrote an excellent book, The Simpson Trial in Black and White, with a white colleague, Tom Elias.) But Janet Gilmore, who reported for the Los Angeles Daily News is now and has been at UC Berkeley for more than a decade; Myra Ming, who was KTTV’s reporter/producer on the scene and went on to become a Nieman fellow, and Bill Whitaker with CBS News where he is now a 60 Minutes correspondent, shouldn’t have been hard to find.
And Haywood Galbreath, whose attendance at the Simpson trial rivals only AP reporter Linda Deutsch, to my knowledge, not only continues his photojournalism career via his H. G. Star-1 News Photos agency and published The O. J. Simpson Murder Trial: the complete photo journal of the trial of the century, he readily talks about being a black journalist covering the trial and probably has the most stark and telling stories about that experience.
At best, one or two of those Carey quoted in this article might have shown up in the courtroom once or twice during the nine months of the trial from opening statements to closing arguments and the four months of pre-trial proceedings, although I don’t recall seeing them. Otherwise, they must have covered the trial from their newsrooms, offices and other non-courtroom locations, via TV, like millions of other viewers.
In Carey’s article, former USA Today DeWayne Wickham recalled his frustration that his reporting didn’t get picked up by his own paper, which he implies in this story was racially based.
“I was a black journalist who reported a story that raised serious questions about the prosecution’s conduct of that trial, and most white folks ignored my reporting.”
Whether or not that was the case, I can’t say. What I do know, though, is that the two USA Today reporters who were consistently in the courtroom were women, so Wickham must have been covering it remotely. Plus, considering the number of African-American journalists who were assigned to onsite, i.e. courtroom, coverage, Wickham’s situation seems to have been more of an anomaly than the rule.
As I read the caption of a photograph used to illustrated Cary’s story, a bias of my own bubbled up. The picture shows Simpson getting out of a car.
Defendant O.J. Simpson arrives under the gaze of t
The caption reads: “Defendant O.J. Simpson arrives under the gaze of the media at the Santa Monica Courthouse where the first day of opening arguments. AFP/Getty Images”
This photo and caption taps into my bias in three ways of how the news media distorts and misinforms the public.
(1) The picture is of Simpson wearing civilian clothes,
(2) The caption says Simpson is arriving at the Santa Monica Courthouse,
(3) The caption says (ungrammatically) “where the first day of opening arguments.”
(1) During Simpson’s 1995 murder trial, he was in custody, locked up in the Los Angeles County Jail, where he wore orange jumpsuits from the day he was arrested on June 17, 1994, until his acquittal on Oct. 3, 1995. His lawyers brought civilian clothes to the courthouse for Simpson to change into in a locked cell there for his courtroom appearances. Never during that trial was he wearing civilian clothes while riding around in a car.
(2) The murder trial, which Carey’s story seems to be about, was held in a downtown Los Angeles courthouse, not in Santa Monica. What was held in Santa Monica was Simpson’s 1996-97 civil trial which resulted in a $33 million judgment against him. So, unsuspecting and otherwise uninformed readers of this story won’t understand the difference.
(3) Opening arguments? What the heck are opening arguments? That is a creation of the news media, something I didn’t realize until I worked for the court. Trial attorneys make opening statements. They state to a jury the facts of the case as they plan to present it and the evidence. Arguments come at the end of the trial, after the attorneys have presented their case, and argue why the jury should decide in their and their clients’ favor.
I’m disappointed that Carey, who is billed at the end of his story as editor-in-chief of During the Simpson trial he worked for CNN’s LA bureau, writing on media coverage of the case didn’t know correct lingo and wasn’t aware of the damage conflating two very different trials held at different times does on his readers’/viewers’ understanding of the legal system and of those who cover it.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Geez

The Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, Marcia Clark, who was the lead prosecutor on the 1995 O.J. Simpson murder case, was interviewed not long ago and included as part of a promo barrage for a made-for-TV fantasy drama due to air next year.

In the interview with ET, she said, “I knew if there was a verdict, it was going to be a not guilty, and still there was that little part of me that said, ‘But they can’t! They can’t do it.'”

My reaction was, just believing a defendant is guilty isn’t enough, Marcia. You had to make the jury think so, too. Beyond a REASONABLE doubt.

Clark might have thought “The evidence was overwhelming” as she told ET, but I think there was plenty of evidence proving that she didn’t use the evidence she thinks was overwhelming to prove Simpson’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury. Two glaring examples of what might have planted seeds of doubt in jurors’ minds are(1)  having Simpson try on gloves that were guaranteed not to go on over his latex-clad, arthritis-swollen hands, and (2) the lead detective on the case committing perjury on the witness stand.

One bit of fantasy being promoted as fact in the upcoming TV drama is this contention: Kris was often present in the courtroom with Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, as Kris’ ex-husband Robert Kardashian was a part of Simpson’s legal “Dream Team.”

All I can say is, NOT! The Jenners showed up one day very late in the trial, Sept. 27, to be exact, and sat with their buddies former Dodgers pitcher Steve Garvey and his wife. I wrote about that strange spectacle on page 67 of Anatomy of a Trial.


The Rest of Ito’s Life–So Far

Nearly 20 years ago — January 1996, to be exact — Lance Ito leaned back in the black leather chair in his chambers, propped his feet up on his cluttered desk and clasped his hands behind his head.

“Well, Jerrianne,” he asked, “What do you think I should do with the rest of my life?” [Chapter 1, page 8, Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson]

According to a NBC News “flashback” and other retrospectives marking the 20th anniversary of O.J. Simpson’s acquittal on two counts of first degree murder for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and an unwitting acquaintance, Ronald Goldman who was indeed in the wrong place at the wrong time, Ito presided over 500, more or less, subsequent criminal trials, some with camera coverage.

This past January, 19 years after he quizzed me on what he should do with the rest of his life, he retired from the Los Angeles Superior Court. According to friends quoted in the NBC flashback, he’s having the time of his life and loving it immensely.

One thing he has not done and, to my knowledge, has no plan to do, is cash in on his fame or, as some think, infamy, the Simpson trial generated. No book with a million-plus dollar advance, which many of the trial principals did. No TV show, which he could have done and raked in a bundle of easy-street money. No rubber-chicken circuit with pricey speaking fees.

Nope, he just went to work, took home his judge’s paycheck and did his job.

“… close friends say the publicity from the Simpson case didn’t go to his head,” the NBC retrospective reported.

“‘He is so humble. It’s kind of amazing, considering the spotlight he got put in,’ said Sergio Robleto, the former commanding officer of the LAPD homicide unit who was also a detective.”

So why the public image that he was an incompetent star-struck celebrity wanna-be that began to dog him during the trial and has remained accepted truth ever since?

Three reasons, so far as I’m concerned.

(1) He was interviewed on a CBS TV-affiliate weeks before opening statements in the trial on a subject that had no connection with that or any other trial. The interview, however, was exploited by the station and violated every condition he required before he agreed to do the interview. That episode is detailed on pages 25-28 of my book Anatomy of a Trial. 

(2) He didn’t make the TV camera maintain a static shot of the courtroom well and bench with no zooming or panning, which the media would have found boring and unable to maintain the kind of huge audiences that would watch more ‘dramatic’ coverage.

(3) He didn’t clamp down hard enough until well into the trial on cavorting lawyers who played to the media or on the few members of the media who misbehaved.

When he did, it just angered them all the more.

It is all history now. I’m glad Ito survived it all as well as he did and that he’s enjoying this new phase of his life.

One Final Haiku

It’s history now

Jury was unanimous.

Community split.


Something many of us who were involved with the Simpson case, both as court officials and as members of the media, had no idea about was:

(1) How profoundly the trial would affect judiciaries and public perception around the world,

(2) That the affect would reverberate for so many years, and,

(3) That 20 years later it would continue to make headlines or be the subject of newly released documentaries or the basis of a TV drama.

Wonder if will remain as alive by the 25th anniversary of the verdicts. Maybe you will find out with me.