Questions of interest

Among questions people ask when I speak to their groups go, not to media coverage of the Simpson trial or how that continues to wrinkle the current court-media landscape, but to legal aspects of the case.

“Why,” one woman asked at a recent writing class I spoke to, “did the judge let (prosecutor Christopher Darden) have O. J. Simpson try on the glove?”

Once I explained that a judge is a referee whose job is to rule on the applicability and relevance of the law and that as long as the lawyers are within the law, the the judge doesn’t dictate how they can or should present their case, who they should call as witnesses or what evidence they want to introduce. So, unless the other side objects, the attorneys proceed with their case as they see fit.

“Then why,” one of the woman’s classmates wanted to know, “didn’t the defense object to Simpson trying on the glove?”

Certainly, it was to the defense’s benefit that Simpson try on the glove, since they apparently knew what Darden didn’t. That regardless of whether the glove had fit Simpson’s hand when the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman occurred, there was no way he was going to get that stiff and shrunken glove over the arthritic-swollen knuckles of a hand sheathed in a supposedly evidence-protecting latex glove. So rather than object, they were delighted to see what turned out to be Darden’s disasterous demonstration.

The point, I said, was that Darden didn’t follow one of the basic tenets of lawyering, which is, “Don’t ask a question you don’t know the answer to.”

And the point of relating these questions is, that even though the Simpson-Goldman murders that precipitated Simpson’s trial were committed nearly 15 years ago, people not only still remember the case and are still curious about it.

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