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Remembering O.J. Simpson 'Verdict Day' in LA

John Gizzi By Friday, 12 April 2024 04:17 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

When the news broke Thursday that O.J. Simpson had died at age of 76, everyone seemed to recall where they were when the news broke that the football great and mainstay of Hertz Rent-a-Car commercials was a suspect in the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Much as anyone who was around on 9/11 or on Nov. 22, 1963, children and adults remember in detail what they did and thought when a jury in Los Angeles acquitted Simpson of the double murder on Oct. 3, 1995. 

I certainly do. I was on assignment in Los Angeles and headed for lunch as the news broke that Simpson was found not guilty in what was dubbed "The Trial of the Century."  Suddenly, the traffic slowed and horns began to honk.

When I met producers David and Gary Johnson and their parents for lunch, the restaurant reflected what polls would soon show about the clear racial divide of the entire country over the verdict. Black patrons were talking excitedly while others were silent. Polls universally showed most blacks felt "the Juice," as Simpson was known, got justice, while whites and Hispanics felt otherwise.

Later, the Johnsons took me to the filming of an episode of their short-lived TV series "The Monroes." Series star William Devane portrayed family patriarch John Monroe, drunk and clearly upset at his daughter's boyfriend. Devane asked her when she would see the man he derided as "American Gigolo," he had retake the line several times to get it right.

Devane's mind, I thought, is clearly on something else happening that day.

One who has particularly poignant memories of all of it is Lisa Beach, award-winning Hollywood casting director of such films as Walk the Line, Wedding Crashers, and Wolverine.

"I was in New York when I heard the news [of the murders in 1994], and immediately said to myself, 'O.J. did it,' Beach told Newsmax on Thursday, "I watched the high-speed chase, [in which Simpson's storied white bronco was pursued by police] and was glued to the TV for what felt like months afterwards — years, actually."

As what would soon be dubbed "the trial of the century" unfolded, the American public got to know a cast of characters that Beach characterized as "Shakespearean": Kato Kaelin (house guest of the Simpsons, who went on to be a bit actor and radio talk show host), defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, prosecutors Marcia Clark and Chris Darden, Faye Resnick [Nicole's best friend], Judge Lance Ito, and, of course, Nicole, Ron, and O.J.

"My best friend and I would go down to the courthouse, along with a journalist friend who was covering it, what a circus it was," Beach said. "We definitely got into the bizarre spirit of it, even going so far as to buy a Lance Ito jello mold.

"But we never got into the courthouse," she said, explaining that "daily tickets were like hen's teeth. So we would watch on TV — every moment was drama at a fever pitch."

The came Oct. 3 and the verdict.

Beach told us she "had never really understood the criminal trial process before this, so watching it was a huge lesson in the definition of 'reasonable doubt.' When the verdict came down, I was devastated with O.J.'s acquittal. I have honestly been forever jaded by the 'if the glove don't fit, you must acquit' tack that Cochran took to get his client off the hook, and realized that despite him doing his job for his client, a very guilty man walked free of two brutal murders.

"Being fair and impartial when the evidence was so stark — but so soundly twisted by the defense — has forever made me wary of criminal defense lawyers, and 30 years later it still pains and infuriates me to remember the primal grief on [Ron's sister] Kim Goldman's face as the verdict was read, 'not guilty.'"

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
When the news broke Thursday that O.J. Simpson had died at age of 76, everyone seemed to recall where they were when the news broke that the football great and mainstay of Hertz Rent-a-Car commercials was a murder suspect.
oj simpson, verdict, 1995
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2024-17-12
Friday, 12 April 2024 04:17 PM
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