Tag Archives: CNN

Richard Dreyfuss and the Mysterious Bouquet Revisited

A comment that just showed up on a post on this blog more than a year ago prompted me to revisit a couple of events that occurred during the Simpson trial.

Here’s the comment, posted by Mike:

“according to cnn Dreyfuss was in court monday september 18 they have a photo of him too here http://www.cnn.com/US/OJ/daily/9-18/pm/index.html . When was James Woods in court?”

I took a look at the photo in the CNN piece Mike provided the link to and, sure enough, there sat Richard Dreyfuss in what certainly appeared to be the Simpson courtroom in the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building. So, here’s the link to my blog post about Dreyfuss and the Simpson trial and here’s my reply to Mike:

Thank you, Mike! Seeing this photo helps explain why I didn’t notice Dreyfuss when he attended the trial. It appears that he wasn’t sitting in the press section. Those were the seats I was responsible for. It looks like he might have been sitting in the defense section of the courtroom spectator seats. Defense attorneys/staff determined who got to sit there.

(The only occasion I can recall that I took any interest in who occupied those seats was when <em>The Executioner’s Song</em> author Lawrence Schiller was hanging one cheek on the end of a bench-style seat in that section as the seventh person in what was supposed to have been a six-person row. I probably wouldn’t have taken much notice even then, except for two factors.

One was a couple of defense-team lawyers entreating me to give Schiller a media seat. He apparently was there at the behest of the defense to, as defense attorney Carl Douglas said, “Tell O.J.’s side of the story.” I told Douglas and his colleague that the media seats were all assigned, so if they wanted Schiller to attend the trial, they would have to give him a seat in the defense section. I believe I said something like Schiller would have to replace someone they had already given a defense seat to. It didn’t occur to me that they was have him squeeze in with everyone else already there.

The second factor was sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom telling me that seven people sitting in that row, instead of the space-designed six, violated fire department code, so he would have to leave.)

Another reason I might not have noticed Dreyfuss in the courtroom is because I generally don’t recognize famous people. That was the case when Nicole Kidman attended proceedings involving a civil lawsuit filed against her for breach of contract and when Steven Spielberg was a spectator in a case of someone charged with stalking him.

As for James Woods, I remember him attending the Simpson trial, but not the date. I’ll have to do a little research to see if I can come up with that information.

Haiku Hiatus, But Simpson’s Still Here

No haiku for a few days. Apparently court was in recess, possibly for spring break.

Simpson Google News Alert emails continue to pop up my inbox, though. Most of them these days have to do with Simpson’s health, ongoing speculation about his paternity of one of the Kardashians (sorry not to be up on that clan), and the pending TV series based on a book CNN commentator and New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin wrote about the trial. Hearsay, hearsay, hearsay! (I still say they really missed out on what really went on behind the scenes by not basing the series on MY book.)

Savage Reporting Gets Savaged

Here’s my haiku of this day twenty years ago:

Test results aren’t in.

Whose blood is found on the socks?

Savage reporting.


KNBC television reporter Tracie Savage reports on DNA test results of blood found on Simpson’s socks before the testing is complete.

Here’s an updated CNN report on the situation:

Before the glove arguments, the defense tried to question a television reporter about a story she broadcast September 21, 1994, about one of the socks found at the foot of Simpson’s bed. She reported that DNA testing had disclosed Nicole Brown Simpson’s blood in its fibers. Since her report gave DNA results before the tests were conducted, the defense suggests the anonymous source of the leak knew what the results would be because the evidence had been planted.


Tracie Savage of KNBC-TV said she got the information from “knowledgeable sources close to the case” but refused to identify them further, saying she “gave my word as a journalist that I would not reveal their identities.”

She then invoked the California Shield Law, which protects reporters from being forced to disclose confidential sources.

Here’s the link to the entire story:  http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/law/12/11/court.archive.simpson9/index.html?iref=allsearch

Simpson Verdict 3rd Most ‘Impactful’ TV Moment?

Here it is, nearly 20 years after the O.J. Simpson murder trial and I must say I truly was surprised by a couple of facts in this June 14, 2014 CNN story:

5 surprising facts about O.J. Simpson’s slow-speed chase.

… here are five things that might surprise you about the infamous Bronco chase.

Fast facts: O.J. Simpson

1. The Bronco chase and subsequent “not guilty” verdict are among the most memorable TV moments in the past 50 years.

The Simpson verdict was the third most “universally impactful” televised moment of the last 50 years behind the September 11, 2001, attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to a survey by Nielsen and Sony.

Big shift in attitude toward O.J. Simpson

Simpson’s white Bronco chase came in sixth, behind the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the death of Osama bin Laden.

The survey scored each big televised event based on how many people viewed the event live, how many could recall details about where they were during the event and how many people who could remember talking about it with other people.

READ: High-profile acquittals

2. The Bronco chase dominated sports coverage on a day with major sports news.

On June 17, 1994, legendary golfer Arnold Palmer played his last round at the U.S. Open, the World Cup opened in Chicago, the Rangers celebrated winning the Stanley Cup, the Knicks played game five of the NBA finals against the Houston Rockets, and Ken Griffey Jr. tied Babe Ruth for the most home runs hit before June 30.

ESPN covered the other big sporting news, but jumped back and forth for frequent updates on the chase. NBC continued coverage of the NBA finals, but the game appeared in a small box in the corner while Tom Brokaw anchored coverage of the Bronco chase.

It just kind of blows my mind that the Simpson verdict ranks so high — just after the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and Hurricane Katrina — as the most “universally impactful” televised moment in the past 50 years. What about the Supreme Court selecting the U.S. president in 2000? Or the green flashes of “Shock and Awe” as the U.S. attacked Iraq on March 19, 2003? Or the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy? Or the Aug. 8, 1974, resignation of President Richard Nixon?

Just amazing — if true.

Public Facility, Official Proceeding. Who Should Profit?

 People vs. Simpson haiku I wrote twenty years ago today:

TV copyright.

Does someone own the signal?

The court should profit.


The trial judge, Lance Ito, after hearing that CNN is selling a video package of the preliminary hearing, asked court staff to explore ways the court could reap some of the profit broadcasters were making covering the trial.

This was an idea taken up by Los Angeles County officials who formed a task force to look into ways that the county could reap some of the revenue or find a way to generate revenue from the media coverage of  the Simpson case. Their reasoning was that given that the media had free access to public facilities, was using electricity free of charge, and their overwhelming presence was costing the county a great deal of money in security services, and not just when court was in session. Because the criminal courts supervising judge had arranged for the media to set up a large area in the courthouse as their operations center. The county very much wanted to find some way to recoup some of that expense.

Scoring Geragos, Snarky or Not

A friend sent me the following message the other day commenting on noted criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos (Scott Peterson, Winona Ryder and, briefly, Michael Jackson) who is a CNN commentator on the George Zimmerman trial.

 “Jerrianne, in “Anatomy of a Trial” you quote celebrity attorney Mark Garagos as ripping the media for focusing on the “who’s winning, who’s losing” angles in trial coverage. But he’s doing exactly the same thing every day on cable TV coverage of the Zimmerman trial. Would be good if he could walk his talk. Hypocritical not to do so, don’t you think?”

Here’s my reply:

Sure seems so …. I haven’t seen his Zimmerman punditry, but someone else remarked at how snarky he is. Disappointing. Although he came across to me as passionate about his work as a defense attorney, he was always a gentleman with me.

Here’s the Geragos reference in my book my friend was talking about:

And if a high-profile case is in the spotlight, defense attorney Mark Geragos says in a Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review article, reporters “discuss the case as if they observe minute-by-minute action. The news story begins to take on the ESPN sports model, where journalists report that the prosecution had a good day, the defense is playing catch up, the witness took a beating, etc.”

I hadn’t seen Geragos on CNN, so I went through a few of his appearances that CNN has archived.

He’s pretty strident, that’s for sure.

In one he gets into a back and forth with another commentator about the appropriateness of Zimmerman lawyer Don West’s daughter’s post on Instagram and whether it does or should affect the trial in any way.

In another he’s more than a little critical of the prosecution and how it’s presenting it’s case.

I didn’t view them all, so possibly missed the one or more that my friend referred to. Maybe I’ll try again. If you want to, here’s the link to the archived segments:


Darden’s Opinion, Relevant or Not

Regardless of his performance in the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial, some might find former Los Angeles County prosecutor Christopher Darden’s views about the Zimmerman case interesting. CNN’s Piers Morgan apparently did. Darden’s opinion pretty much boils down to, the case is race based and Zimmerman has the upper hand.

Former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden on the Zimmerman trial: “It’s a race case without question”


What interests me more than Darden’s opinion is that someone whose 15 minutes of fame was such an embarrassment remains relevant coming up on 20 years later. What accounts for that? A good publicist?

Pimping the Phil Spector Trial

Why do they do things like this?

HBO has the temerity to warn that its movie called “Phil Spector” supposedly about the trial of former record producer Phil Spector in which he was convicted of murdering aspiring actress Lana Clarkson isn’t is not based on fact.

(“HBO’s “Phil Spector” by TV & Radio critic Duane Dudek in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/tvradio/new-boss-at-wvtv-wcgv-speaks-language-of-experience-7k98n0k-199456771.html)

What, the facts weren’t sensational enough for the movie producers and writer-director David Mamet?

Here’s a link to the Los Angeles Times coverage of the 2009 trial. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-spectorgallery,0,5124683.storygallery

Dudek points out that not only are the “Phil Spector” movie makers just shameless in exploiting an actual event for their own fictional purposes, their travesty airs on the heels of much finger-wagging at CNN’s shameless sympathy for the lost careers and potential of two Ohio rapists who were local football stars. 

Dudek likened the minimizing of the rape victim in CNN’s coverage of the convicted rapists to the murdered Clarkson in the Spector trial film.

“What a coincidence,” Dudek writes, “that CNN and HBO are both owned by the same company; Time Warner.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Dudek concludes. “Well, maybe Mamet could.”

And why to they do it? That question, of course, is rhetorical. It’s because they’ll do anything to make a buck, even pimp the truth.

I Wonder if They’ll Call

I wondered today if I should be sitting by the phone awaiting a call.
What about?
To be invited to serve as an adviser or consultant on a movie being touted to “take viewers behind the scenes of ‘The Trial of the Century,’ driven by the nonstop plot of a courtroom thriller and presenting the story of the trial as it has never been told,” a Los Angeles Times story, quoting a publicity statement, said.

O.J. Simpson trial and ‘Shogun’ to become Fox movie events


Behind the scenes of 1995 Simpson murder trial? No one had a more “behind the scenes” view or role that I did — save, the judge, Lance Ito, and his courtroom staff. That, in fact, is what my book Anatomy of a Trial is all about. That and the often-erroneous perception people — and particularly members of the judiciary around the world — had, and still have, of that trial. So, I would be the perfect consultant.

The movie, with working title “The Run of His Life: “The People v. O.J. Simpson”, is reported to be based on a book of that name by CNN legal correspondent,author, and New Yorker magazine contributor Jeffrey Toobin.

A clue to my opinion of Toobin’s book, or at least a part of it, can be found on pages 65-67 of my book and is presaged on the home page of my website @ http://www.anatomyofatrial.com.

Another omen that might be a predictor of the movie’s accuracy is that the courtroom artist’s rendering that accompanied the L.A. Times story was done in Nov. 1996 and was of the 1996 trial, according to the illustration caption.

Simpson’s criminal trial, The People vs  Orenthal James Simpson, ended on October 3, 1995, with not guilty verdicts.

It seemed rather strange to me that the Times chose a sketch from a trial other than the one the movie is to be based on. There were hundreds of sketches done of the ’95 criminal trial.

Also in the spirit of accuracy, the 1996 trial, which actually was the 1996–97 trial, with the jury rendering its verdict on Feb. 4, 1997. I had an insightful behind-the-scenes role — and daily seat in the courtroom — in that trial, too.

Not Such a Nice Girl — or Boy — After All

Jake Tapper, previously an ABC corespondent and now with CNN, on the NPR program Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me — of all places — told about having a date with Clinton White House intern Monica Lewinsky before news of her relationship to the president had broken. Some time after that date, Tapper was on a scuba-diving vacation with his father in the Cayman Islands when he saw the headline in the Caymanian Compass. His reaction?

“Oh, my god!”  http://www.npr.org/2012/12/01/166240236/jake-tapper-of-abc-news-plays-not-my-job

That was my reaction to the news many years earlier that O.J. Simpson was the primary suspect in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman — except that I had never dated Simpson. In fact, I hadn’t even met him. But like just about everybody else in the country, I knew him.

Or thought I did.

Football great, Hertz and HoneyBaked Ham pitchman, Naked Gun movie actor, all-around good guy.

Seeing him in the courtroom, interacting with his defense attorneys and others during his 1994 pretrial proceedings and his 1995 trial,  didn’t do much to challenge that image, despite evidence alleging otherwise. At most, the self-centered sense of entitlement that isn’t uncommon with gifted athletes who are courted and coddled from high school — and even earlier — on through scholarships and ivory-towered college sports program, began to bleed through.

An example was his lawyers bringing special food to the courtroom for his lunch so he wouldn’t have to suffer the “mystery-meat” sandwich and apple sack lunches given jail inmates in courthouse lockup. That lasted until word got to the trial judge, Lance Ito, who ordered it stopped.

I got a better sense of another Simpson during his 1997 civil trial that resulted in a $33.5 million judgment against him. Unlike the criminal trial, Simpson was not in custody, so he frequently held forth in the Santa Monica courthouse corridors.

One day a high school student whose teacher had arranged to help me out as a volunteer said she didn’t want to be around him because he hit on her. Interestingly, she was a pretty, shapely blonde.

I never actually “met” or talked to Simpson until his 2008 Las Vegas trial on robbery and kidnapping charges  trial. It was an awkward moment. I was going into the courtroom during a break in the proceedings and he was coming out. We met in the doorway.

Although we had never spoken, I knew that he knew who I was. How could he not? I was in the courtroom almost every day of both his ’95 criminal trial and his ’97 civil trial.

After we each said “hi” as we stood there in that Las Vegas courtroom doorway, what to say next. So I blurted out, “How are you?”

Well, duh. He had a ten-year-old $33.5 million judgment against him that he hadn’t paid a penny toward. The ivory tower of his youth and glory days had crumbled to dust. He was the ongoing butt of endless jokes. And he was, yet again, on trial for crimes that could land him in prison for years. (And did!) So, how the heck did I think he was?

And what the heck was I doing at that trial in Las Vegas, anyway? I no longer worked for any court in the country and had long-ago moved out of California.

Although the Simpson trial in Las Vegas would be interesting, the only reason I went was to see my friend Dominick Dunne who had been diagnosed with what was expected to be a terminal illness. (And it was.)

So, have you known, or thought you knew, someone who turned out to be vastly different from the image they presented or passed themselves off to be? Someone who gave you an “Oh, my god!” moment?