So, this week we were discussing the first and second OJ Simpson trials; the criminal one in 1994-5 and the civil trial, touching on Simpson’s later actions and later legal troubles. The discussion was good. I need to learn more about being a facilitator, and less the guy sitting in the front of the room and blathering. Perhaps I should go Socratic on these guys. But, early days yet, and we do ultimately have a good discussion. My goal is to have it be less of the Dr. Zeus show.
Be that as it may, we had all looked at Marcia Clark’s book, Beyond a Doubt, and other material on the web. For modern cases like these, I find that web sources (or newspaper articles) are superficial, but can serve as an overview and a jumping off point for a more in-depth discussion.
The first thing that struck me when reading Beyond a Doubt was the defensiveness of the author. Admittedly, she lost me when she made a crack about medical examiners “They’re not all Dr. Quincy. What happens if they make a mistake, their patients come back to life?” That little gem aside, her book blamed a lot of people for mistakes and mismanagement.
Looking at the physical evidence, there’s enough blame to go around. In most trials, the extant trace evidence would have been enough to convict Simpson. The trial length also surprised me. I would have expected, under ordinary circumstances, a trial involving a double homicide to take about five to ten business days. Thirty-three weeks is incredible. The trace evidence and blood evidence should have been enough to put any normal defendant behind bars.
But this was no normal defendant. Specifically, he had plenty of money. He had enough money that people walked carefully around him. People were worried about his power (because money is power) and his largess. He was enabled by many people who benefited from his largess. He also benefited from errors made by, let’s face it, everyone associated with the case. From people who liked to see themselves on television, (Dancing Itos, anyone) and people who wanted money (too many to mention) and people who were worried about the consequences of the trial and racial tensions in the Los Angeles county. The driving forces, though, were publicity and underlying that, money. Money buys publicity, and the publicity sells advertising, making money in a circle.
The take-home message, was, being a rich narcissist may help you get away with a double homicide, but being a rich narcissist helps you commit a double homicide, and those behaviour patterns will hurt you in the long run.