Pistorius Needs Unanimity of One

Parallels between the Oscar Pistorius case of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and that of O.J. Simpson who stood trial for the premeditated murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown blare from countless news stories and endless punditry.

The victims were gorgeous blondes. Claims of domestic violence abound. Agendas and/or competency of the lead police detectives are questioned.

But there are differences, as Simpson defense attorney Bob Shapiro points out in this article. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/02/21/oj-simpson-oscar-pistorius-robert-shapiro-us-legal-system-south-african-legal-system/1935873/

A huge difference in the trials themselves–a trial date might be set for Pistorius at his next court appearance on June 4–is that Oscar Pistorius will not be facing a jury. South Africa does not have a jury system. Cases there are determined by a single judge who presides over the proceedings.

That will decomplicate a lot. One is the time and expense of selecting twelve members of the public to comprise a jury, and from a few to several more to serve as alternates. Eight were chosen for the Simpson trial.

Another is the monumental decision about whether or not to sequester the 12 plus alternates. Monumental because of the huge risk of contamination if they are not sequestered which could result in a mistrial versus the exorbitant cost of housing, feeding and entertaining them, not to mention the terrible disruption in their lives, if they are sequestered. The Simpson jurors and alternates were sequestered–which was almost akin to being imprisoned–for more than nine months. Nine months of having to live apart from their families and being away from their jobs, with some employers refusing to pay them during that time.

Yet another complication can be a dysfunctional situation either with one or more jurors, individually, or in group interactions.

I devoted a chapter to the 1995 Simpson jury, juror problems and high drama in Anatomy of a Trial.

Another significant difference between the Pistorius and Simpson cases is that as of this morning, Pistorius is out on bail. Simpson spent the entire 14-plus months behind bars, from his June 17, 1994, arrest until his Oct. 3, 1995, acquittal.

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