Should O. J. Simpson Get Parole?

Glossary:
PARIAH
1
: a member of a low caste of southern India

2
: one that is despised or rejected : outcast

Quote picks:
‘It’s perfectly in keeping with the absurdist drama of the O. J. Simpson case that a person can be acquitted of charges he is guilty of and not ones that he isn’t’.

‘The American legal system is not supposed to be a karma-based organism of retribution for unpunished bad deeds, but that’s how it worked in Nevada’.

Jeffrey Toobin
“The American legal system is not supposed to be a karma-based organism of retribution for unpunished bad deeds, but that’s how it worked in Nevada. The Las Vegas case was a transparent attempt by the local authorities to issue payback for Simpson’s acquittal in the 1994 murders, notwithstanding the statements to the contrary by the judge in the case. The fracas in the hotel room was a kind of minor dispute that probably would have attracted little notice from law enforcement if Simpson had not been involved. Instead, he was not only prosecuted but also received a wildly excessive sentence.”

― Jeffrey Toobin

Daily Comment
Should O. J. Simpson Get Parole?

By Jeffrey Toobin

July 19, 2017

t’s perfectly in keeping with the absurdist drama of the O. J. Simpson case that a person can be acquitted of charges he is guilty of and not ones that he isn’t. Given this paradox, it’s difficult to conjure a just result for Simpson’s parole hearing in Nevada on Thursday. That’s because the authorities there will be evaluating a prison sentence that was, at once, both too long and too short.

For those who need a refresher, here’s a brief primer. In 1995, Simpson was acquitted in a criminal trial, in Los Angeles, for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The following year, in a civil trial that took place in Santa Monica, the former football star was found liable for the murders and was ordered to pay the families of the victims 33.5 million dollars in damages. By the late nineties, Simpson had become a pariah, in light of a widespread belief that he had, in fact, killed the victims. He moved to Florida, where laws protected virtually all his assets. His former life—as a network sportscaster, actor, and celebrity pitchman—disappeared, and it was replaced by money-making schemes like selling memorabilia from his earlier years.

It was Simpson’s involvement with the memorabilia business that led to his conviction in Nevada. On September 13, 2007, Simpson and some friends went to a room at the down-market Palace Station Hotel and Casino (the kind of place where the pre-1994 O. J. would never have been seen) to confront some dealers who were trying to sell some of Simpson’s stuff, including, apparently, the suit that he wore on the day of his acquittal in the criminal case. There was a lot of shouting, and some guns were flashed, though none were fired. In the end, Simpson and five others were charged with crimes, including armed robbery. Simpson’s co-defendants made plea deals and received either no prison time or shorter sentences. Simpson was convicted and was sentenced to thirty-three years, with eligibility for parole after nine—leading to the hearing on Thursday.

The American legal system is not supposed to be a karma-based organism of retribution for unpunished bad deeds, but that’s how it worked in Nevada. The Las Vegas case was a transparent attempt by the local authorities to issue payback for Simpson’s acquittal in the 1994 murders, notwithstanding the statements to the contrary by the judge in the case. The fracas in the hotel room was a kind of minor dispute that probably would have attracted little notice from law enforcement if Simpson had not been involved. Instead, he was not only prosecuted but also received a wildly excessive sentence. For a man who, in my view, literally got away with murder, how much should that bother us?

It should bother us, but not too much. The mistake, from the beginning, about the Simpson case was to see it as representative of the legal system as a whole. The story of the murders, from beginning to end, was aberrant—in the amount of resources that the police invested in the case (compare it with the attention that the L.A.P.D. paid to the murders described in Jill Leovy’s brilliant book “Ghettoside”) and, especially, in the size and the skill of Simpson’s defense-attorney “Dream Team.” In one respect, the Simpson story illuminated a broader issue, regarding the feelings of African-Americans about the police, in Los Angeles and around the United States. At the time of the trial, and especially in its immediate aftermath, blacks and whites saw the case very differently, but the racial gap has narrowed considerably over time. Belief in Simpson’s innocence has withered since 1995, among blacks and whites alike.

So, if the Simpson case were a meaningful precedent, it would be important to validate the principle that the criminal-justice system operates one case at a time; acquittal in one trial shouldn’t prejudice a defendant’s fate in another. By that standard, we should hope that Simpson, like any other well-behaved, seventy-year-old convict who is eligible for parole, receives the release that is his due. But, like so many people who followed the criminal trial, I can’t pretend to evaluate Simpson’s current fate by the principles that should apply. I see the bloodied corpses of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman in the technically unrelated case of today. Simpson belongs in prison, and he should remain there.

Jeffrey Toobin has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1993 and the senior legal analyst for CNN since 2002. He is the author of “The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court.”Read more »

Source: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/should-o-j-simpson-get-parole?mbid=nl_TNY%20Template%20-%20With%20Photo%20(192)&CNDID=44225119&spMailingID=11519173&spUserID=MTU4NDQ3OTAxNjk1S0&spJobID=1201834548&spReportId=MTIwMTgzNDU0OAS2

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