Friday, October 24, 2008

Calhoun’s Cannons, The Bay News, Tolosa Press, SLO, CA for October 24, 2008

Perfect Justice

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it . . .

In an odd way, it was the perfect verdict: O.J. Simpson, not guilty of the savage murder of two people, but O.J. guilty of greed and stupidity. The official conviction was for armed robbery and kidnapping, but in reality, he was just another dumb thug, part of a Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight, an old has-been caught red-handed fumbling around a Las Vegas hotel room trying to steal back odd bits of memorabilia and other junk left over from a wasted life that was long gone. It was ridiculous. It was pathetic. It was perfect. The real O.J. for the world to see, at last.

Long gone was the O.J. still surrounded by his fawning sycophants. Gone were the high-powered attorneys in their Armani suits, slapping his back and crowding in on the TV lights, eager to be part of the Trial of the Century, a celebrity affair of wretched excess and goggling public obsession.

If that O.J. had been convicted of that horrific double murder, he would have been able to go out in a blaze of glory – A man to be feared, to be reckoned with, a man who felt he had a right to slit his wife’s throat when she dissed him, and then take out a brave young stranger who came to her defense. Two with one blow! A fearsome power player still at the top of his game, his innocence trumpeted amidst a cloud of race cards all being played at once.

And he would have entered the prison system as Top Dog, the kind of man given deference, admiration and a wide berth -- a legend, a famous ex-football star, the one who dared stand up, an innocent black man railroaded by the LAPD, a hero!

That boffo grandstand ending was denied him, thanks to LAPD history, clever lawyers, poisonous racial pay-back and a lying cop – in short, a perfect storm of historical retribution and miscarried justice. It was a deadly brew that remains a potent stumbling block to justice for so many, even to this day.

What followed was a civil trial that found him liable for the death of two people, and civil penalties that sent him scrambling with his assets to Florida to spend his years on the golf course “looking for the murderer of his children’s mother,” surrounded by the usual grab-bag coterie of “friends” --hangers on, each sucking from his fame teat, hoping a little glory and a few bucks would come their way by the association.

But the civil trial and O.J.’s nature was the karmic cog that had been tripped into motion, the small moving wheel that compelled him to Las Vegas to fulfill his destiny.

While it still remains a possibility that some legal loophole will again see him walking free on the golf links, he can now never escape his true identity --not a feared, formidable double murderer, but a greedy, sleazy thug, trying to hustle hustlers who were tripping all over themselves to rat him and each other out, all scrabbling to make a few bucks off of junk that rightly should have been sold on E-bay for a couple of dollars.

Some of O.J.’s former lawyers, the ones whose high-priced talent and courtroom shenanigans helped free him on a double murder charge, were contacted by the L.A. Times for comment on the Las Vegas verdict. It was a Who’s Who of legal fame, these men who couldn’t wait to rush into that original courtroom and appear on Court TV. But not now.

“I just don’t want to talk about O.J. Simpson anymore,” said Gerald Uelmen, a professor at Santa Clara University Law School and former dean.” “I have no comment,” said F. Lee Bailey.” “And from Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz: “I’m not going to talk about it.”

No, of course not. After all, these lawyers are the kind who are only available for the rich and famous. Why should they waste their precious time commenting on a run-of-the-mill crime committed by a common criminal who’s headed for prison, nobody special, dime a dozen, good riddance to bad rubbish. After all, being a double murderer isn’t a real crime in America; being a has-been is.

The perfect coda for the perfect crime.


Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...


While the families of Ron and Nicole might not view it as such, the justice in this case is rather apt.

I do have to somewhat disagree with you about your trashing of these three lawyers. Besides the whole rich and famous thing (which might be considerable), there is one really good reason why many good lawyers would have been willing to work for OJ on the murder case ... the DNA fingerprinting issue.

DNA fingerprinting is not anywhere near as solid as what the prosecution would have jurors believe and it would be only in the context of a rich defendant and a widely publicized trial that lawyers who view defendant's rights as important that the issue could be appropriately raised. The recent case is simply not interesting from a legal point of view while the murder case was.

In particular, the prosecution's DNA experts got on the stand and said something like "there is only a 1 in 50 million chance that a randomly chosen person could have left blood with that DNA profile at the crime scene ... but the DNA matches OJ's, so he must have been the guy." The problem with this argument which, at face value seems rather compelling, is that the chance that the police mixed up the vials of blood at the lab is considerably higher than 1 in 50 million. (Some blind studies of the quality of criminal lab blood work suggest that vial mix-ups happen as often as 1-2% of the time.) While I don't believe that the police were trying to frame OJ, I can easily believe that in a less high-profile case, sloppy lab work could be the reason behind a conviction ... and if the accused doesn't have the resources to adequately challenge the "scientific" evidence, there is no hope for the real victim ... the guy who just happened to have a lab accident convict him.

Nope, DNA fingerprinting should not be used as "rock solid" evidence of anything and the OJ case was a great opportunity to point this out to the courts and to the greater public.

Churadogs said...

For this to be valid, the police would have had to screw up both the blood drops at the crime scene (if memory serves, they took samples from the sidewalk and the gate) and later took samples from inside the bronco, & also socks? & etc. Also, if memory serves, weren't those samples taken at different times, so all of those samples would have to have been mixed up, which would be statistically unlikely. (To my knowledge, the LAPD crime lab wasn't legally challenged by the thousands by convicted folks whose lab work passed through that. You read often of certain labs being shut down and the cases they processed being "re-tried." To my knowledge that didn't happen after O.J.'s trial) As for the claim that all of the samples were deliberately "mixed" up in order to frame O.J. & etc. to my knowledge, no review or investigation ever made that claim credible. Also, as for "framing" O.J. I found that scenario funny because O.J. was pals with the police, they thought he was swell, and certainly never came down hard on him on his wife beating charges. Indeed, he was buddy buddy with cops, as a football hero, a sort of "guy thing." The racist thing didn't hold water either because O.J. wasn't really "black." He was a sports hero, not some schlub on the street. And rich, which always ensures special handling.

I found it interesting that Barry Schenck (sp?) went on later to focus on DNA work, getting innocent people off via DNA. I often wondered if that was a sort of atonement for his efforts that got O.J. off.

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...


You are right ... that such mix-ups (which happen more typically at the lab than in the field) are rather unlikely ... but the "1 in 50 million" chance that is presented to the jurors as "rock solid" is a fiction. Even if the police were to make no mistakes, there are a whole host of other reasons why one should be really really suspicious of "DNA fingerprinting" ... the National Academy of Sciences reports on the topic would suggest that there are far more errors than prosecutors would like to admit.

Sheck is right to understand that the best role for DNA work is to provide evidence of innocence.

Churadogs said...

Inlet sez:"Sheck is right to understand that the best role for DNA work is to provide evidence of innocence"

Ah, but now a conundrum: If DNA fingerprinting should lead to one being suspicious (i.e. it's not as accurate as touted,) then why should it be used to prove "innocense" but not "guilt?"

Shark Inlet (a.k.a. Stiv Neener) said...

The whole concept of innocent until proven guilty would suggest ... that if the DNA evidence shows a particular accused is unlikely to have committed the crime she is accused of, she should not be in prison. The nature of the innacuracies and the way that DNA evidence is overstated when used by prosecutors are the problem.