Saturday, December 6, 2008
The Simpson Verdict
Cross-posted by Gary Fouse
In the summer of 1995, shortly before retiring from DEA, I was in Riga, Latvia doing a drug training course for a class of Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian cops. Our team was staying at the newly-built SAS Radisson Hotel, and we were able to follow world news on CNN. On the first day of our school, the students were asked if they had any questions. The first guy who raised his hand asked, "Who in the Hell is OJ Simpson?"
Today, I watched OJ Simpson sentenced to a long term in prison for his armed robbery caper in Las Vegas. Thirteen years earlier, I had watched the outrageous verdict in Los Angeles when a predominantly black jury ignored an avalanche of evidence and pronounced him, "not guilty". The shocked reaction of most white observers, mixed with the jubilant reaction of most black observers set race relations back in this country for a while.
Today, it seems that America has moved on from OJ Simpson. I think most blacks realize by now that the guy is a bum-and a murderer to boot. Simpson pretty much stands alone today aside from his family and lawyers.
After Simpson and his co-defendant, Clarence Stewart, gave their statements, the judge took a tortuously long time in making her statement before pronouncing sentence. There was a reason for that; Judge Glass was "protecting the record" as they say-especially when she reiterated that Simpson's murder case was playing no role in this case and her sentencing. (That removes any serious hope of Simpson's lawyers appealing the conviction or the sentencing on grounds that their client was being punished for the murder case in which he got off.) By the way, Stewart, who stands to be the answer to a trivia question, got 15 years.
Even after Simpson's sentence was pronounced, in which the most serious count got 15 years, there was confusion as to how long he must actually serve since there was a consecutive sentence imposed. It appears that Simpson will have to serve a minimum of 9 years before being eligible for parole and could serve as long as 33 years.
Once again, Fred and Kim Goldman were seated in the courtroom watching Simpson get his justice. They can take grim satisfaction from the fact that it was their never-ending campaign to hound Simpson with their civil judgement in Santa Monica that was a factor in pushing him to commit the deed for which he will now serve time in prison.
Fred and Kim Goldman are people I greatly admire. They were abused by the system in the murder trial. I will never forget the scene of shock and grief as the Goldmans heard Simpson being pronounced, "not guilty" by a clearly biased jury, Kim crying in the courtroom and Fred with a completely shocked look on his face. It was truly heartbreaking.
Yet, they continued to work within the law trying to find some measure of justice for their murdered son, Ron. I don't think I could have followed the course Fred Goldman followed. For that, he is a greater man than I. If it had been me, I guess I would have been in jail these past thirteen years. I'll leave it at that.
Today was a good day.