Category Archives: High-Profile trials

Simpson might not be the only one on TV on Thursday

Someone I met recently at a neighborhood party asked me if I was going to be on any media programs in connection with Simpson’s parole hearing on Thursday.

Not only had no one contacted me about such a possibility, I hadn’t thought about reaching out to anyone in the media. I hadn’t even arranged my schedule so I could watch it (ESPN is reportedly going to televise it, and other networks might follow suit).

That changed this evening. The news director of a TV station in a city nearly 200 miles away called and invited me to participate in a segment on Thursday to discuss the trial (the 1995 murder trial in which he was acquitted, not the 2008 robbery/kidnap trial that resulted in conviction and Simpson’s imprisonment) and my book.

The caller was gracious and offered to pay travel expenses. I appreciated that, but declined. It’s a matter of time, not the gas to get there. As an alternative, we’re going to talk tomorrow to arrange a FaceTime session during the day on Thursday.

It should be interesting — or at least I sure hope it will be.

 

All in the Family–and Defense Team

Does this strike you as bizarre or is it just me?

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising for a Kardashian to hire a lawyer who’s well-known to his family. Rob’s dad, Robert, was co-counsel with Bob Shapiro on Simpson’s defense team. Nor should it be surprising for Kardashian to go with a lawyer who was on a winning side, which Shapiro was as part of that defense team, which prevailed in Simpson’s 1995 murder trial.

Still… What do you think?

http://forward.com/fast-forward/376637/rob-kardashian-hires-oj-simpsons-former-lawyer-to-defend-him-in-wake-of-rev/

Summer sale on Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson @ Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson — $7.99 (includes shipping with Prime). Or get a signed copy directly from the author — $7.99 plus shipping @ http://anatomyofatrial.com/contact/.

 

All Things Simpson are Rather Gumpish

My O.J. Simpson Google News Alert dumps a good half-dozen Simpson-related stories in my email inbox every day. Most are repeats of the same news. The past couple of days they’ve been about arguably iconic Simpson house guest Kato Kaelin showing up at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game and a winning raffle ticket, and rapper Jay-Z’s new musical social justice endeavor. Here are the headlines with links to the stories.

Kato Kaelin, a key witness in O.J. trial, wins raffle at Brewers game

Did this Reviewer Get it Wrong?

Here’s a review of Anatomy of a Trial that didn’t make it onto my website @anatomyofatrial.com. It appears to be one of the first published and is so old it’s no longer in the California Lawyer archives. Consequently, I can’t provide a link to it.

When I came across it the other day and read through it, the review’s take on a couple of aspects caught me by surprise. One was, “As [Hayslett] tells it, the bogeyman behind this tale was presiding Judge Lance Ito.”

Was that really the way I told it?” I wondered. For sure, I didn’t intend to. While not being his apologist, neither did I consider him a bogeyman. True, he made mistakes, which he conceded, but he, for the most part, was victimized. I would love for followers of this blog who’ve read Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss to weigh in. What’s your take

Book Reviews
Anatomy of a Trial
Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson
By Jerianne Hayslett University of Missouri Press, 252 pages, $29.95, hardcover

Reviewed by Barbara Kate Repa

Do not read this book if what draws you to all things related to O. J. Simpson’s first criminal trial is the usual intrigues: the fallen football hero, testimony from the bumbling and beautiful, prosecutor Marcia Clark’s ever-changing hairstyle. For example, Kato Kaelin, Simpson houseguest-turned-hostile-witness, gets only a passing mention. Ditto the low-speed Bronco chase, that too-small bloody glove, even O. J. himself.

Instead, Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson begins with the conclusion that Simpson was a train wreck of a case, from jury selection through to its lasting legacy. And the author, Jerrianne Hayslett, attempts to explain why from her vantage point as a media liaison for the Los Angeles Superior Court.

As she tells it, the bogeyman behind this tale was presiding Judge Lance Ito: He was too compartmentalized, too informal, too friendly, too human, and too cautious to do his job right. By the author’s count, Ito allowed media issues to take up a third of his time during the trial, although she disputes the common claim that the lure of fame caused Ito to undermine his sense of judicial propriety.

Hayslett also points an accusing finger at the media. Throughout the trial, she reports, journalists jockeyed for space in the courtroom, angering the deputies; they talked among themselves, driving distracted jurors to write notes of complaint about their conduct. And she describes her own shock the day then–NBC Today Show host Katie Couric appeared in Ito’s chambers, chummily munching candy from the jar on his desk while begging for the promise of an interview.

Now here’s the puzzling thing: As the court’s media liaison, Hayslett was, by her own description, responsible for “handling press issues and logistics.” It would seem that a person in that post would have taken it upon herself to say a few things, such as: “Sit where you belong” and “Be quiet” and “Hey, Katie, you really should have phoned first.” But the author remains oddly disassociated, at one point even bemoaning that the trial “launched a cottage industry of books about the trial, the defendant, the crimes, the victims, and the jurors.” Present book excluded?

Finally, Hayslett blames television, which, she laments, “could have informed and educated, could have brought people unable to physically attend the trial into the courtroom,” but instead “used the trial for entertainment and unabashed commercial promotion.”

Well, it was entertainment. The nine-month trial, misbranded by many as the longest in California’s history, probably only felt that way—with 150 witnesses testifying, countless hearings to hash out evidentiary issues, and timeouts to deal with jurors’ bouts with the flu, infighting, and brewing book deals.

Still, the trial never ceased to rivet. On the October 1995 morning the not-guilty verdicts in the Simpson case were delivered, AC Nielson confirmed that virtually every TV in the Los Angeles area, and 91 percent nationwide, was tuned to hear and see them.

Anatomy of a Trial plumbs that nostalgia. Hayslett draws from reflections recorded in her diary throughout the trial, with the most momentous moments marked by haikus, such as this one:

Press reports are wrong.

Ito feels numbed and disturbed,

What is the outcome?

Poetry attempts aside, though, the book is well written, with nice twists of phrases and observations uniquely gleaned from watching the trial from the inside out. And there’s fun in these pages. The author dishes—mostly about the divalike behavior and short skirts of the female reporters and lawyers, although she also gets catty about comic Jackie Mason, hired as a BBC commentator for the trial, noting his “almost wrinkle-free kind of skin” and too-tight hair weave.

Occasionally, Hayslett’s own roots get the best of her. For example, she spends too much time describing the cloisters of courtroom administration and which reporter circumvented what unwritten chain of command. It’s not that interesting—unless, perhaps, you’re the person whose command was jumped. And the book has a scattered and preachy conclusion about courts and media relations and the public’s right to know. Or something.

Most profoundly, readers will be reminded what a difference a decade or so makes. Death has taken a chunk out of Simpson’s defense Dream Team, with Johnnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian now gone. Lance Ito, once hailed as a judicial rising star, now sits in an L.A. criminal courtroom with no nameplate on the door; his name lives on as a frequent crossword puzzle clue, but he shuns the limelight. And Simpson sits locked up in Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada for 9 to 33 years for those strange and less-gripping crimes involving his old football trophies.

Nevertheless, the mystique of the Simpson case endures, blamed for everything on the First Amendment parade of horribles—including sealed records, prior restraints, closed proceedings, and gag orders on lawyers, litigants, and witnesses. And, of course, for the relative merits of allowing cameras in the courtroom. Approved in California since 1981, cameras in court became suspect after Simpson—singled out, according to Hayslett, as “the biggest contributor to the derailment of that trial and the negative public perception of it and its participants.”

The day the Simpson verdicts were delivered, then-Governor Pete Wilson wrote a letter to then–Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, urging a statewide ban of electronic media coverage in criminal trials. In response, the California Judicial Council investigated and held a series of public hearings, ultimately deciding to give judges complete discretion on the issue.

The pundits couldn’t stop themselves from drawing parallels with the Simpson case a couple years ago when Judge Larry Paul Fidler opted to allow cameras in court during Phil Spector’s first trial for murder. But Spector, an unphotogenic record producer best known for the Wall of Sound production technique he popularized in the 1960s, was no Simpson—on a number of levels. And his trial was no Simpson.

Barbara Kate Repa, a contributing writer to California Lawyer, watched every televised moment of The People vs. Orenthal James Simpson.

Read Anatomy of a Trial and decide for yourself.

Summer sale of $7.99. Shipping is free with Amazon Prime. A signed copy directly from me is $10, shipping included.

OJS pops up in unexpected places

John Kerry Compares Trump To OJ Simpson For Ditching Paris Climate Accord

Kerry: ”…Trump saying he’d renegotiate the Paris accord is ‘like OJ Simpson saying he’s gonna go out’ and ‘find the real killer.'”

http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/04/john-kerry-compares-trump-to-oj-simpson-for-ditching-paris-climate-accord/

Comparing Tiger Woods to OJ Simpson is offensive

“The only thing in my view that links Woods and Simpson, apart from being high-profile athletes, is the colour of their skin. I don’t think we would, for example, compare Lance Armstrong to a killer.”

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editors/2017/05/31/comparing-tiger-woods-to-oj-simpson-is-offensive.html

No Cameras, No Phones: You Can’t Watch Bill Cosby’s High-Profile Trial

My friend Linda Deutsch, on today’s NPR Weekend Edition, talked about  media coverage of Bill Cosby’s trial in Philly — no cameras, cell phones, recording devices, internet access — and the Simpson trial 22 years ago.

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/04/531444438/no-cameras-no-phones-you-cant-watch-bill-cosbys-high-profile-trial

Everyone should read “Anatomy of a Trial: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson” for a clear picture of the impact media coverage had on the judiciary and the public. It makes the best case for courtroom camera coverage.

A great summer sale of $7.99 just went into effect on Amazon —   www.amazon.com/dp/0826218229?m=A1UT13HVUXZL25&ref_=v_sp_widget_detail_page — Or order directly from me for a signed copy.

Is OJS Headed from Frying Pan into Another Fire?

 

 

O.J. Simpson has a parole hearing in July and if he is granted parole he could be released as early as October.

https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/05/23/oj-simpson-july-parole-hearing

If he’s granted parole, how long before he’s back in hot water again?

So the Question is, M. Jenner…

…why did you wait more than 22 years to say so?  Caitlyn Jenner Says She Knew OJ ‘Did It’” 

Did she think so back when she was a he, sitting in the Los Angeles courtroom next to his then-wife, Kris Kardashian, who was about eight months pregnant with Jenner’s child?

Reading this article, her belief wasn’t a recent epiphany. So, why the long wait to spring the shocker now?

Oh, she’s got a book to sell.

Why Seussesque Simpson Parody Wasn’t

Somehow Seuss vs. Simpson (or a Seussesque parody of the Simpson case) got by me. This headline caught my eye the other day, though.

Here is a sampling of a Seussish couplet:

When you’re accused of a killing scheme

You need to build a real Dream Team.

So, just what the news was in this story by writer Steve Brachmann published yesterday in Practicing Law Institute’s IPWatchdog remained a mystery to me, until the light dawned. This is just one more (fill in the number) anniversary of something Simpson-trial related.

Hint: in Seuss vs. (a stretch) Simpson, the defendant lost.

 

 

“Made in America” Edelman Examines Simpson, Trump, Celebrity, Country

The insights documentarian Ezra Edelman reveals in these two articles are so thought provoking, nothing I say can do them justice. Fascinating reading.

OJ: Made In America’s Ezra Edelman interview: ‘It’s a deeper portrait of a country’

‘The director of the Oscar-winning documentary talks about the the scourge of celebrity and the similarities between the rise of O.J. Simpson and Donald Trump” 

 

Oscar-winning director of OJ: Made in America says Donald Trump is a lot like OJ Simpson

 

 

 

 

Simpson Rising From Ashes to Reality TV?

Headlines like this —

O.J. Simpson could be on reality TV following release from prison

— are popping up all over the place.

Yet, his first parole hearing isn’t until October, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be released. I wonder if he will be released. If so, he will, no doubt, be signed onto this

Will his celebrity trump (yes, deliberate word choice) the pariah status he achieved after being acquitted of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman?