Simpson Convicted On All Counts

O.J. Simpson has been convicted on all 12 counts in his armed robbery case in Las Vegas. The case involving the the robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers at a casino hotel could result in a life sentence for the former football star. Simpson was engaged in a conventional act of self-help in the most unconventional work to retrieve a small number of sports memorabilia items. The drama of the conviction was magnified when his sister Carmelita Durio sobbed as he was being escorted out of the courtroom and then collapses — requiring paramedics to carry her out of the courtroom. Co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, was also convicted. The convictions came exactly 13 years to the day after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of two murders in California of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

There is very little room for sympathy for Simpson who literally got away with murder in California — largely due to the worst prosecution team ever assembled by mankind. However, there are a couple of troubling elements here. First, the prosecutors in my view over-charged the case and a life sentence would be far out of line with the actual crime here. While the jury rejected his claim that he was seeking to retrieve his own property, it is notable that this was not some strong-arm robbery. Simpson did not hide his identity and openly sought to take back his property. He used the wrong means, but committed a crime — and a tort if sued later. However, the count stacking in the case seems driven by his celebrity status.

Second, I am very bothered by the anniversary. The court should have timed the case to avoid such a potentially prejudicial coincidence. Recently, I had a judge specifically schedule a trial to avoid any possible chance that the trial would occur around 9-11 due to some terrorism elements. Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass should have done the same. To her credit, she refused to allow attorney David Cook to testify. Cook, an attorney for the family of Ronald Lyle Goldman, was asked by the prosecution to search for Simpson’s assets to satisfy the $33.5 million civil judgment against him.

It was very unlikely that Simpson could be acquitted on all of the counts — particularly when he refused to take the stand. If this was a simple mistake in method, the jury probably expected to hear him say that on the stand.

Simpson could be sued civilly in this matter as he was for the murders. The common law allows owners to protect their property with the use of relatively low levels of force that is not calculated to cause death of serious injury. However, the use of force is greatly discouraged in cases where there is a dispute over ownership between individuals. In some ways, it resembles the case of Kirby v. Foster in 1891 in Rhode Island, where there was a dispute between an accountant and a business owner over 50 dollars. The owner of Providence Warehouse Co. deducted the amount from the bookkeeper’s pay when the books came up short. The bookkeeper then took out the same amount after he was entrusted with money to pay staff. He did so under the assumption that he had a right to self-help after consulting with a lawyer. The owner used force to recapture the chattel. The court ruled that some force could be used to to recapture stolen chattel, but not in such an “honest” dispute where the defendant could rely on the legal process.

Ironically, while the common law does not allow the defense of property with force calculated to cause serious injury or death, you can use such a level of force if (in the course of protecting property) your life is threatened (converting defense of property into defense of self).

Simpson was clearly wrong to use this level of force both criminally and civilly. However, the normal sentence for such a crime would far less than life. There is no room for opportunistic sentence: where a later crime offers a convenient opportunity to sentence Simpson for “the one that got away.”
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13 thoughts on “Simpson Convicted On All Counts”

  1. Even though I disagree with you about the 1995 trial, I respect your position on this case, and I believe you may be correct. Clearly, you know more about this tahn I do. I am a biased OJ fan, but I think he should have gone about this in a more legal way. I think any man out there that says that he would not have acted in the same way though is a liar. However, life in prison in this is rediculous. Do you know if there was any creedence to him calling the police before hand, and being denied help? I heard that somewhere, but it may have been just a rumor.

  2. I agree the sentence is way over the top for this crime, showing that there was prejudice.

    It troubles me as well that there would be this sort of revenge justice, however I think in the long run they did OJ a favor.

    He cut off a womans head.

    He murdered a young man in the prime of his life.

    Allowing him to pay for these crimes by finally serving jail time is a good thing, however the way they did it of course was not.

    I’m glad for OJ that he’s going to finally get to do a little jail time. I loved OJ back in the day. He was a hero of so many young men. (Remember him in the commericals running through the airport?). He was a great man in his career, and it was a tragedy for him as well as his victims what he let his jealousy drive him to murder.

    So in a way, I’m almost happy for him, that finally he gets to pay a little for what he did.

    But I’m not for this sort of obvious revenge justice and misuse of the law, for many reasons. The least of which is this decision will likely be overturned on appeal.

  3. What you wrote is clearly an example how a person, especially an attorney, ‘might’ have an understandable personal bias against Mr. Simpson resulting from his “escape from justice” from a previous case and then professionally ‘suspend’ those biases when reviewing the facts and fairness of the current case.

    The desire to seek revenge for a previous injustice is human nature; however, revenge should never be the principle reason to punish a person later on in an unrelated case.

    Thank you for your display of personal v. professional restraint and fairness while discussing this issue.

    The No. 13 was not Mr. Simpson’s lucky number. Interestingly the judge or courts might be seen as “grandstanding” with this court date.

    Relatively, during the previous Simpson case, I always thought that the man who testified to hearing someone say:

    “Hey, Hey, Hey”

    Really heard the shouts of:

    “O.J., O.J., O.J.”

    (Oh-Jay v. Hey or “Hay”)

    Had I been a prosecutorial attorney in that case, I would have driven the O.J. and Hey point home to the jury. However, I do not think that similarity was mentioned during the trial.

    Perhaps that is speculation, but if someone were trying to murder me, I would try to shout-out the person’s name to implicate him and I think that is what Mr. Goldman was attempting to do. Who would not recognize the name O.J.?

    Instead, an older man (lessened hearing acuteness) tragically may have interpreted ‘Hey’ instead of ‘O.J.’. Regardless, that reasonable doubt should have entered the jury’s mind.

  4. I don’t think they are moderated LEO but from time to time certain comments get caught by the SPAM filter. Usually because I think of special characters and sometimes a URL will trigger it.

    Its a good idea to copy your comment prior to pasting it, so you don’t lose the comment if that happens. If it won’t take the comment, try removing any URL’s, special characters, etc and reposting it.

  5. Are posts moderated on this forum? Is there a word/character limit?

    Just curious, because I have twice tried to post a rather long reply—although markedly less than ‘War and Peace’–after which I cleared my cache and with sufficient time in-between to allow for clearances of some common forum related obstacles.

    I did not find FAQs to reference. I definitely want to play by the rules (law!) of this forum.


  6. OJ is finally going to jail for armed robbery after being acquitted in one of the most celebrated murder trials of my life. How does a person who had so much going for him drop so far? In one sense it is sad to see how far he has fallen, but he is reaping what he sowed.

  7. David:

    You are right, the initial article on AP was wrong in identifying her as his counsel. Thanks.


  8. Are you sure Durio is his attorney? The reports I read say she is his sister. I’ll keep looking though.

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