Flashback: The OJ Simpson Trial

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Appreciating the fact that a number of you undergrad students were in grade school at the time of Simpson’s trial, The Cannon here in presents a brief timeline of the affair.

Jun 12, 1994-Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are stabbed to death. Their bodies are found in the front courtyard of the Nicole's condominium in Brentwood.

Jun 13, 1994-O.J. Simpson is notified of the murders while on a business trip in Chicago. He returns to Los Angeles, is temporarily handcuffed, and taken in for questioning. Robert Shapiro is contacted on Simpson's behalf and asked to become defense counsel.

Jun 17, 1994-About to be arrested for murder, Simpson slips out of Robert Kardashian's home. He is then pursued by police, which turned into the now famous (and often parodied White Ford Bronco chase. Friend A.C. Cowlings drove the Bronco and when he returns to his home on Rockingham, Simpson is taken into custody.

Jun 24, 1994-Grand jury recused.

Jul 8, 1994-A six-day preliminary hearing ends with Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell ruling there is sufficient evidence for O.J. Simpson to stand trial on two counts of first-degree murder.

Jul 22, 1994-O.J. pleads "absolutely 100 percent not guilty" to the charges. Judge Lance A. Ito is assigned to hear case.

Aug 18, 1994-Defense counsel files motion to obtain personnel records of Detective Mark Fuhrman.

Sept 2, 1994-District attorney files motion to sequester jury.

Sept 9, 1994-District attorney announces that the death penalty will not be sought.

Sept 19, 1994-Judge Ito upholds the legality of the search of Simpson's home.

Nov 3, 1994-Jury panel selected: eight black, one white, one Hispanic, two-mixed race; eight women, four men.

Dec 8, 1994-Alternate jury selected.

Jan 4, 1995-Defense waives hearing for challenge of prosecution's DNA evidence.

Jan 11, 1995-The jury is sequestered. Hearing held on admissibility of domestic-abuse evidence.

Jan 13, 1995-Prosecutor Christopher Darden and defense attorney Johnnie Cochran argue over racist language regarding the upcoming testimony of Mark Fuhrman.

Jan 24, 1995-Trial opens. Prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden deliver opening statements. Johnnie Cochran makes opening statement for the defense the next day.

Jan 27, 1995-O.J. Simpson's book, I Want to Tell You, is published.

Feb 3, 1995- Jul 6, 1995- Nicole Brown's sister Denise is the first major witness for the prosecution, testifying about O.J. Simpson's abuse of her sister. Developments during this period included: Detective Mark Fuhrman’s cross-examined by defense attorney F. Lee Bailey over his alleged use of the n-word; L.A.P.D. criminalist Dennis Fung concession, under cross-examination by defense attorney Barry Scheck, of procedural errors in the investigation; weeks of DNA testimony; and Simpson trying on the bloody gloves, which did not seem to fit, perhaps because Simpson was wearing latex gloves underneath.

Jul 6, 1995-The prosecution rests.

Jul 10, 1995- Sept 8, 1995-The defense begins its case by calling Arnelle Simpson, O.J. Simpson's daughter. Further controversy erupted over possible conflict of interest concerning Judge Ito. Marcia Clark asks Ito to recuse himself from the trial though she changed her mind a week later. Increased pressure is put on Fuhrman as first tapes of his conversations are played in court with the jury absent and then Ito rules that the jury will hear two excerpts. Then, with jury absent, Mark Fuhrman appears on stand again but he refuses to answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. On Sept 7, the defense announces that Simpson won't testify on his own behalf and requests that Ito instruct the jury as to reason for Fuhrman's further nonappearance. Ito agrees, but prosecution objects. The question is taken to the Appeals court, which rejects Ito's jury instruction.

Sept 11, 1995-The Defense refuses to rest their case due to the unresolved question of Judge's instruction to jury concerning Fuhrman. Judge Ito orders prosecution to begin its rebuttal.

September 18, 1995-Prosecution conditionally rests its case.

September 21, 1995-Both defense and prosecution rest their cases. In a statement to the judge waiving his right to testify, Simpson says, "I did not, could not, and would not have committed this crime." Judge Ito gives jury instructions.

Sept. 26-28, 1995-Clark and Darden deliver prosecution's closing arguments; Cochran and Scheck deliver defense's closing arguments.

Sept. 29, 1995-The case goes to the jury.

Oct. 2, 1995-After less than four hours, jury announces that it has reached a verdict.

Oct. 3, 1995-Jury finds O.J. Simpson not guilty of two counts of murder.

Oct. 23, 1996- Feb. 4, 1997-The civil trial begins. The jury consists of nine whites, one black, one Hispanic, and one person of mixed Asian and African ancestry. Simpson testifies before a jury for the first time. He denies killing Goldman or his ex-wife, but cannot explain the physical evidence against him. In December, Simpson is awarded custody of his children by an Orange County judge. The Jury hears 101 witnesses over 41 days of testimony. During the closing arguments, plaintiffs’ attorney Daniel Petrocelli points at Simpson and says, "There's a killer in this courtroom." The jury finds Simpson liable and awards plaintiffs $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $33.5 million in total rewards. The Court eventually orders Simpson to turn over his assets, including 1968 Heisman trophy, a Warhol painting, and his golf clubs in order to pay the damages.

Jul. 14, 1997-Simpson’s Brentwood estate is auctioned off and soon demolishes by the new owner.

Courtesy of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

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