It’s bad enough that misinformation and misperception continues to swirl after nearly 20 years about the O.J. Simpson trial and the presiding judge, Lance Ito. But when some yokel comes blowing onto the scene who neither attended nor knows anything about the trial and participants, except what he apparently fabricates in his own reality, it’s more than maddening.
Enter one Don McNay, who bills himself as “Guardian & Conservator for Injured People. Best Selling Author. Award winning Settlement Planner” and somehow won a berth on the Huffington Post. The gimmick for his March 4, 2014, blog post was “How Judge Lance Ito and OJ Simpson Ruined the Legal System”.
McNay’s major beef is that the judge allowed camera coverage of the trial. Whether or not Ito should have allowed cameras, or indeed whether any judge should ever allow cameras in any courtroom, is a matter that has been hotly debated for nearly two decades in the Simpson case, and for a good decade longer than that in general.
McNay might think Ito doing so was a bad idea, and I’m not about to get into that fray here — I covered that in detail in “Anatomy of a Trial”. As the saying goes, he’s entitled to his opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own facts.
The first blatant nonfact in McNay’s blog post is, “Ito went on The Tonight Show and other entertainment programs like a small-time comic trying to work his way to Vegas.”
I can state categorically and unequivocally that Ito neither went on The Tonight Show — not before, not during and not after the trial — nor did he go on any other entertainment programs.
Neither did he grant any interviews — not during and not after the trial. And unlike just about every other person involved in or associated with that case, neither did he write a book or capitalize in any way from presiding over that case.
So where does McNay get off saying such a thing? It’s called exploitation. Demonize and falsely accuse someone who either can’t or won’t defend himself in order to make a name for and/or puff up his own self.
You don’t have to read too far into McNay’s blog post before tripping over another whopper.
“After the (1954 Sam ) Sheppard trials, televisions were basically banned from the courtroom until Judge Ito made his horrible decision.”
That sentence is a three-fer.
(1) Dr. Sam Sheppard had only one trial in 1954. His retrial was in 1966.
(2) Televisions in the courtroom were never the issue. Cameras were. Both still (or print) and television cameras.
(3) Assuming McNay meant television cameras, cameras were not banned from courtrooms from the 1954 Sam Sheppard trial until the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial. Florida pioneered with permitting courtroom camera coverage in the 1970s. California began permitting cameras on a trial basis in 1980 and made a permanent state court rule change in 1984, allowing cameras in its courtrooms, contingent on several factors.
Many, many courtroom proceedings included camera coverage during those years, including the 1992 Rodney King beating trial and the 1993 Menendez brothers trial.
Worse than McNay’s ignorance or willful disregard for factual accuracy, and the Huffington Post giving the guy a forum is his premise that the U.S. judicial system is so weak and ineffectual, that one judge and one trial could ruin it.