O.J. Simpson Trial


O.J. Simpson Trial

The jury selection process

Discounting the warnings of the prospect of a mistrial due to the high chances of the jury being irreparably contaminated, Judge Lance A. Ito ruled that jurors had to be first selected, and then sent home indefinitely while the issue of admissibility of the DNA evidence was deliberated. The Simpson case jury selection started with potential candidates filling out an exhaustive questionnaire of nearly 200 questions which probed their feelings about the case and searched for any biases that would make them unfit for service. They were then subjected to a voir dire interview (Hunt, 1999).

The painstaking questioning of the jury demonstrated the great efforts that either side made to find an impartial panel for weighing the evidence against the accused Simpson. During the selection process, over 100 people were dismissed. Three men and nine women were selected, comprising of one Latino, four whites, and seven blacks. Judge Lance Ito predicted a very long trial and decided to select twelve alternates. In the course of the trial, some jurors were dismissed and replaced by alternates (Schuetz & Lilley1999).

Jury sequestration

The prosecution asked the court to protect the jury from intense media coverage from the time of selection until their discharge. The jury was sequestered for an unusually long period of time – eight and a half months. This was half as long as Simpson’s imprisonment period while under arrest and on trial. They were also assigned numbers so as to protect their identity (Hunt, 1999).

The sequestration was to ensure that the jurors are allowed to devote their full concentration to the trial. They were prohibited from watching television or listening to the radio. Their access to newspapers and magazines was limited in scope, with all references to the trial cut out. In addition, they were limited in their choice of fiction novels. Judge Ito was criticized for dragging the trial (Schuetz & Lilley1999).

Jury verdict

The jury deliberated for only three hours in coming up with the unanimous verdict of not guilty, in a case that had involved $15 million, 150 days, and over 133 days to try. The jury must have already determined the verdict earlier even before the material day. Judge Ito postponed the announcement. Prior to the verdict, security measures were put in place in case of riots happening following the verdict. The verdict attracted great public attention, with approximately 100 million Americans stopping their work to watch or listen to the announcement. Approximately $480 million was lost in productivity due to the suspension of work in order to follow the verdict announcement (Schuetz & Lilley1999).

Controversies relevant to the jury verdict

In the trial which had lasted for over nine months, the public was surprised by the fact that the decision was made in a very short period of time. Critics argued that the verdict was made in a “breakneck speed”. In addition, critics contend that the jurors were “bamboozled”. The defense team is said to have played the “race card” very well, which made the mostly black jury to respond by rendering an emotional, racially biased verdict. Research shows that the racial factor plays a very important role in the jury’s assessment of reasonable doubt, especially in cases involving the credibility of police officers (Uelmen, 1996). However, some people argue that the verdict was not assessed from a racial perspective but from the jury instructions. From this point of view, it is contended that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt (Rubenstein, n.d.).


Hunt, D. M. (1999). O. J. Simpson facts and fictions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rubenstein, R. (n.d.). The Simpson Verdict and the Crisis of American Criminal Law. Conflict Analysis and Resolution Center.

Schuetz, J. E. & Lilley, L.S. (1999). The O.J. Simpson Trials: Rhetoric, Media, and the Law. SIU Press.

Uelmen, G. (1996). Jury-Bashing and the O.J. Simpson Verdict. Santa Clara Law Digital Commons. Faculty Publications.





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