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the o.j. verdict

» Student Handout: Viewing Guide: Focus on Issues and People

Directions: Before watching the film, review the questions for your group, circling the names of people for whom you should watch. As you watch the documentary, take notes on a separate sheet on the people or issues on which you will be expert. You will need the notes for discussion after the film. (Some groups will be addressing the same quotation.)

Note: The issues and people do NOT occur in the order that they appear in the film. Pay attention!

Group One

What role did domestic abuse play in the prosecution case? What was the role of DNA?

What was the role of the bloody glove?

Jeffery Toobin of The New Yorker coined the phrase "the race card" and said he had "not a shred of doubt that O.J. was guilty."
What did he add about the role of race in the jury verdict?

David Margolick (formerly of The New York Times) said "white America has underestimated the racial divide," adding, "we (whites) just all assumed he was guilty."
What was the difference between white and black perceptions?

Michael Eric Dyson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that black people celebrated the verdict because of a "system that never paid attention to them," adding that "O.J. represented every black person that got beat up by the criminal justice system." Explain.

Dyson added that O.J. was the "very guy you (whites) thought was so perfect."
Explain.

What is the importance of the barber shop conversation 10 years after the verdict, where one man adds that the government "framed a guilty man"?

Group Two

"It didn't fit, and you must acquit" (Johnnie Cochran, chief defense attorney). What does this phrase mean?

Jeffery Toobin of The New Yorker coined the phrase "the race card" and said he had "not a shred of doubt that O.J. was guilty."
What did he add about the role of race in the jury verdict?

Why did L.A. police officer Mark Fuhrman play such a crucial role in the case? Think about immediately after the murders and during the trial.

David Perel said that the Mark Fuhrman's tapes proved a "head-nodding moment for black people." Explain why.

Kerman Maddox, a political science professor at USC who thinks O.J. was guilty, said he still applauded the verdict because "at the end of the day, you really are an African American, and you're really different."
Explain what he means.

Marc Watts, the CNN correspondent at the trial said, "Based on the trial I saw, all the evidence, the jury rendered the right verdict." What is the difference between his statement and simply saying O.J. was not guilty?

Ted Koppel said he "felt embarrassment" about the amount of coverage, but it raised ratings. Explain what he meant.

Group Three

What did Alan Dershowitz, one of the defense attorneys, say about the "adversarial system" in American trials? (Note: an adversary is an opponent)

Jeffery Toobin of The New Yorker coined the phrase "the race card" and said he had "not a shred of doubt that O.J. was guilty."
What did he add about the role of race in the jury verdict?

At Johnnie Cochran's funeral in April 2005, Al Sharpton said: "We were clapping for Johnnie Cochran—not O.J."
Explain.

Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor, asked "in what game is it off-limits to talk about racial bias?" What is she talking about?

Marc Watts, the CNN correspondent at the trial said, "Everything's about race; black people deal with race every day." He added: "Whites haven't been on the receiving end of injustices."
Explain.

Robert Ball, an African American attorney, said that, after the verdict, "white people looked at you with disdain" if you smiled, adding that the verdict was more "divisive than you could imagine." Explain.

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