The O.J. Verdict
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Beneath the media frenzy, the "mountain of evidence" and the twists and turns in the yearlong O.J. Simpson case, smoldered a fundamental clash between how black and white America viewed the criminal justice system. A look back, 10 years later, at the trial, some startling truths that emerged from it, and its legacy.


The Trial's Significance and Lasting Impact

Close observers say the O.J. Simpson trial was a watershed in Americans' perception of the law. Some say they could teach a semester's course on American culture, race and the legal system using just the Simpson trial. Commenting on this and the trial's legacy, in these excerpts from their FRONTLINE interviews, are Alan Dershowitz, member of the defense team; Michael Eric Dyson, author and professor of humanities, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Scott Turow, attorney and bestselling author; Shawn Chapman Holley, managing partner, Cochran Law Firm; William Hodgman, member of the prosecution team; Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard law professor; Donald Jones, law professor, University of Miami; and others.

How the Black Community Viewed O.J. and the Verdict

What is the "delicious irony" some black Americans saw in the not-guilty verdict? Why did so many see it as justified on grounds of "reasonable doubt?" And a decade later, have black Americans changed their views about the jury's not-guilty verdict -- and their views about O.J. himself? Here, offering perspectives on these questions, in excerpts from their FRONTLINE interviews, are Kerman Maddox, Los Angeles businessman; Carl Douglas, coordinating attorney for the defense; Michael Eric Dyson, professor of humanities, the University of Pennsylvania; Shawn Chapman Holley, managing partner, the Cochran Law Firm; and Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard law professor.

What the Jury Saw...

Millions of Americans were riveted watching the televised Simpson trial. But did they see the same trial as did the jury? Discussing this and other issues about the jury are Scott Turow, attorney and bestselling author; Gerald Uelmen, member of the defense team; Alan Dershowitz, member of the defense team; Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard law professor; Jeffrey Toobin, author, The Run of His Life; Peter Arenella, law professor, UCLA; and Donald Jones, law professor, University of Miami.

What the Public Didn't Understand...

Whether it's the role of the jury, the responsibilities of the criminal defense counsel, the prosecution's burden in the courtroom, or how the adversarial system is supposed to operate in a criminal trial -- many observers say the American public doesn't understand the criminal justice system, as demonstrated by their reaction to the trial and the verdict. Commenting here are Gerald Uelmen, member of the defense team; Michael Eric Dyson, professor of humanities, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Alan Dershowitz, member of the defense team; Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard law professor; Peter Arenella, law professor, UCLA; and Donald Jones, law professor, University of Miami.

Evaluating the Prosecution's Case

What went wrong? Was it the government's case to lose, or were the prosecutors handicapped from the start? Here are the views of William Hodgman, member of the prosecution team; Alan Dershowitz, member of the defense team; Peter Arenella, law professor, UCLA; Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, law professor, UCLA and Columbia University; Donald Jones, law professor, University of Miami; Shawn Chapman Holley, managing partner, Cochran Law Firm; Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard law professor; Carl Douglas, coordinating attorney for the defense; Robert M. Ball, Beverly Hills attorney who represented Simpson juror Brenda Moran; and others.

Evaluating the Defense's Case

At its core the defense's victory came from focusing on the evidence found by Detective Mark Fuhrman. Here, offering their perspectives on the "Dream Team's" strategy, are Scott Turow, attorney and bestselling author; Jeffrey Toobin, author, The Run of His Life; Alan Dershowitz, member of the defense team; Peter Arenella, law professor, UCLA; Marc Watts, CNN corespondent for the trial; Donald Jones, law professor, University of Miami; and Gerald Uelmen, member of the defense team.

Rating the Media's Performance

The media's scrutiny of the story was relentless. Nothing wasn't recorded, analyzed or discussed on television and in print. However, many experts not only fault the coverage, but say the Simpson case had a lasting negative impact on the media. Here, in excerpts from their interviews, are the comments of Ted Koppel, managing editor, ABC's Nightline; Brooke Gladstone, managing editor, NPR's On the Media; Alex Jones, Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy; Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard law professor; David Margolick, New York Times reporter for the trial; Alan Dershowitz, member of the defense team; Gerald Uelmen, member of the defense team; Peter Arenella, law professor, UCLA; and others.

Rating the anecdotes's Performance

Personal stories and final assessments of the Simpson trial from Kerman Maddox, Los Angeles businessman; Alan Dershowitz, member of the defense team; Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Harvard law professor; Carl Douglas, coordinating attorney for the defense; Ted Koppel, anchor and managing editor, ABC's Nightline; Michael Eric Dyson, author and professor, University of Pennsylvania; Donald Jones, law professor, University of Miami; William Hodgman, member of the prosecution team; David Margolick, The New York Times' trial reporter; Scott Turow, attorney and bestselling author; and others.

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posted oct. 4, 2005

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