O.J. Simpson Case Trial
The O.J. Simpson case was the first of a long line of publicly televised trials. The trial lasted for 133 days and people were consumed with it. It even had the attention of foreign leaders. In 1995 there were a couple ways to measure crime and criminal behavior patterns. One of them was the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). This was a survey given to random houses and families throughout the nation. It was a way for people to report crime without fearing punishment or being labeled a snitch. It was a way to get information without exposing the victim as well. According to the statics, in 1995 there was the largest single year decrease for violent crimes ever measured. Another method was the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR). The UCR is a set of crime statics for police agencies and policy makers to use. Originally it had 7 different major offenses that formed the crime index, which compared these crimes in different locations, the 8th offense was added years later.
The schools of thought regarding the criminological approach to explain deviant behavior are classical and neoclassical. Cesare Beccaria and Jeremy Bentham were crucial to their development. They believed humans have free will and can make rational, personal choices to commit crime and display deviant behavior. A deterrent would be the punishment they would face for the crime they have committed. There is a weight between the pleasure of the crime, to the punishment it comes with if caught. So, the punishment must outweigh the pleasure for crime to be deterred. The neoclassical school does however focus more on the character of a person; and the development of that character as a person is being faced with an opportunity to commit a crime. These approaches relate to the O.J. Simpson case because O.J. had the option to stay away from Nicole’s home and once he saw Ron Goldman, to walk away. He made a rational choice out of jealousy to stay and question Ron, resulting in a heated argument. An alternative explanation of crime that relates to the case is a stem off rational choice theory, which is situational choice theory; it views criminal behavior as a function of choices and decisions when a situation occurs. If the opportunity to commit a crime is there, take it. Even though Nicole was O.J.’s ex-wife, he was still obsessed with her. He had also never met Ron Goodman, Nicole’s friend. When faced with this situation, jealousy arose, and things quickly escalated from that point.
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O.J. was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder. Aspects of this crime that occurred and proved O.J. met each of the criminal elements needed to charge him with the crimes he was indicted on are was the testimony of his driver Allan Park. Allen stated that he rang the doorbell at O.J.’s house and there was no answer, also, he may have seen O.J. enter the house. He also reported they were 30 minutes late to the airport O.J. was being dropped off at, giving O.J. plenty of time to commit the murders. Secondly, was the phone call made to inform O.J. of Nicole’s death; his response seemed very uninterested. He also had a deep cut on his hand that he claimed was reopened from a glass he broke out of devastation over Nicole’s death, but that was only found out after he initially lied about not knowing the origin of the cut. With this evidence, the investigators now had probable cause and O.J. was now a suspect.
Since this is a homicide case, the process of investigation and arrest are a bit different from other crimes. The investigation begins with a canvas of the neighborhood to find potential witnesses and interview them. In this case the only people interviewed was the limousine driver and O.J. There was no other reported canvasing done. The interview with O.J. was very unhelpful. The questions that needed answering did not get asked. It was so unhelpful neither side of lawyers used it as evidence. Then the crime scene investigators will collect any evidence at the scene and take photos. An officer named Mark Fuhrman found a bloody glove at the scene, which as the trial proceeds, would be detrimental to this case. Once they had enough evidence against O.J. an arrest could have been made. Once the arrest is made there is no bond. But O.J. got favored and instead of being arrested, he was instructed to turn himself in. The arrest was finally made after a slow speed chase that lasted nearly an hour. A grand jury must be chosen for a homicide case to go to trial. When selecting the grand jury, prosecution chose to file the case in the wrong district. They wanted the convenience of travel and did not consider the cultural difference between where the crime occurred (Santa Monica) and where they filed (Downtown District). The Santa Monica District would have been better for the prosecution because there would have been more white woman in the jury who would emphasize with and for Nicole, opposed to the Downtown District, which was more racially diverse. During the trail the defense said O.J. could not have killed anyone with a knife as brutal as Nicole and Ron were murdered due to his arthritis. The prosecution shut this theory down with a video of O.J. doing vigorous aerobic exercises. The prosecution had 72 witnesses on Nicole’s behalf, 911 phone calls of Nicole is distress because O.J. was abusive, DNA matches from the Bundy crime scent to O.J,’s home in Rockingham, testimony of a friend of O.J. saying O.J. told him he dreamed of killing Nicole, testimony of limo driver Allen Park stating O.J. was carrying a black bag and wouldn’t let anyone touch it, Kaelin testified to hearing thumps on the wall at around 11 p.m., which was the same time Allen Park saw the shadow that could have been O.J. coming into his house, and the bloody glove, all as sufficient evidence for a guilty verdict. The defense found tapes of officer Furnham using racial slurs and used this to discredit his prior testimony of never using racial slurs. This turned the case around for the defense because they claimed since Furnham was a racist the LAPD planted or tampered with the DNA that was found. The damage of Furnham’s lie was devastating to the trial. The prosecution had O.J. try on the glove that was found at the crime scene, thinking that the glove would fit, but not taking into consideration of how the glove had shrunk due to the dried-up blood on it. The glove did not fit on his hand making the jury believe the glove was not his. The defense had a forensic expert testify that due to the pattern of blood spatter and bloody footprints, there was more than one murder. The scientist, Henry Lee, was very impressionable and the jury liked him. He also said that there was “something wrong” with the prosecution’s DNA tests. He raised doubt in the jury’s minds. After closing arguments, the jury deliberated for 3 hours and delivered a not guilty verdict for O.J. Simpson.
Some of the issues that were presented in this case that relate to human diversity in the criminal justice system are, for starters, the way Judge Lance Ito treated Prosecutor Marcia Clark. Although she was a strong, smart, and capable female prosecutor, she had many times of hardship during this trial. She was highly scrutinized for her every move; from the comments on the shortness of her dress to her changing her hair. Judge Ito was sexist toward Clark, often calling her by her first name. He made a remark after she changed her hair insinuating she looked like a man and made remarks to the jury telling them not to be distracted by the hemline of her dress. Another issue was the racist LAPD officer. He called African Americans a derogatory name multiple times on tape. This is an issue because as an officer it is your duty to protect and serve the people, regardless of ethnicity. Also, the way the jury was selected was an issue. They didn’t want to file in one district because it would have to many white woman jurors and would have more of a chance for a conviction.
Capital punishment is the ultimate form of punishment, which is death. In this case the death penalty was not sought by the prosecution for a few different reasons. One being, most people who get the death penalty have lengthy records of crime. The death penalty is used for people who are not considered human due to the horrific nature of their murder; O.J. was a loved football hero. Also, for the death penalty to be ordered, a killing must fall into one of 19 categories of special circumstances set by the state law. The death penalty pros are that if you commit a crime so horrific, death is the retribution for that crime, it is a tool used to keep the law, it keeps others from committing these kinds of crimes, and it is cheaper than keeping the person in prison for life. A few of the cons to the death penalty are that you may be ending the wrong persons life in some cases, it lowers the moral of society equal to the murderer, and most view the process as inhumane or barbaric.
The importance of punishment for criminal acts is so others know there are consequences to the decisions one makes. You can not break the laws set in place to provide a safe society and not have a fear of the punishment it comes with. Punishment for crimes has changed in many ways throughout the years. Punishment in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were extreme; they would boil a person alive, behead the criminal, burn the person until death, crucifixion, drownings, and hangings. More modern, here in the 21st century in America, the punishment for crime is time spent without your freedom in an air-conditioned cell with 3 meals a day, a bed to sleep on and snacks you can buy. Also, there is parole or probation periods for criminals, for felony charges your rights to own a firearm and to vote are revoked. For the more serious offenses there is the death penalty done by lethal injection. For myself, the most important aspect of punishment is deterrence. It is crucial that a lesson is learned, and the punishment fit the crime. Or else what would be the point? I feel that inmates have it to easy in America. Majority of the time, due to funding, the person is released back into the free world with limited restrictions, there are multiple offenders and even some that would prefer prison because all their basic needs are met. This is unheard of in other countries. They are treated so poorly and so deprived of those basic needs, that the chance of repeat offenses is lower. In my opinion, I feel that restructuring jails and prisons to be more like punishment than a vacation can be effective in deterrence. Then there may not be such a burden on community alternatives, like probation and parole officers, social workers and law enforcement.