Letters to the Editor
April 18th, 2024

To the Editor:

“The Trial of the Century,” the 1995 prosecution in Los Angeles of OJ Simpson for the brutal murders of Nicole Brown, his ex-wife, and friend Ron Goldman, was televised daily with nightly summaries. I watched every available moment (a common compulsion of law school graduates who don’t practice law).

I and everyone else thought the case would be a slam-dunk. The prosecution was assigned to two DA deputies: Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. Judge Lance Ito, at first very judicial, soon surrendered to the cameras.
The “dream team” defense lawyers were Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, and Robert Shapiro. And Barry Scheck, now of the Innocence Project, presented the defense to the prosecution’s blood evidence (of which there was a lot). The blood evidence was the most damning. Or seemed so.

Weeks of evidence of bloody shoes and gloves, blood samples, the science of blood evidence, and rules for preservation of evidence, were presented. But when the prosecution rested and the defense began, cracks appeared in the prosecution’s conduct of the case.

Testimony revealed that blood samples from OJ and the victims were carried in police pockets from crime scene to scene, a blood sample was left open on an investigator’s desk, both significant errors in the chain of evidentiary custody. OJ’s bloody socks, not on the floor the day after the crime, suddenly appeared in a video taken a week later. The chief investigator, Mark Fuhrman, seized evidence in OJ’s home without a search warrant, and falsely said he had never used the “N” word. Unbelievably, the prosecution sought to definitively prove the bloody (and now dried) glove fit the defendant over a protective vinyl glove, a foolish prosecutorial error.

By the time the defense rested, I thought the jury would find OJ Not Guilty (even without the well-known prior racial misconduct of the LAPD). I would have voted the same way, knowing in my heart he had done the crime, but recognizing that the prosecution had not met its difficult burden of proof. There were too many prosecutorial errors, failures in evidentiary custody, mishandling of the essential blood evidence, impeachment of key witnesses, too little probable cause or lack of warrants for searches and, of course, “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Criminal guilt requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt and to a certainty. OJ was later found liable in a civil suit where the burden of proof is “more likely than not.”

The same prosecutorial burden of proof exists for Trump in his upcoming criminal trials. We will soon discover if that burden is met.

Kelly Scoles,
Fillmore, Ca.