O.J. Simpson Verdicts: Justice or Payback? – Part 1

Apologies to my readers for my having not posted something for so long. I’ve been very busy lately with some demanding legal issues. Let’s turn the focus back to what’s current in the news of criminal law.

O.J. Simpson finds himself again behind bars. This time, football star and celebrity-in-exile was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and ten other charges for joining five men a year ago and storming into a room at a Las Vegas hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos allegedly belonging to Simpson. Prosecutors claimed two of the men with him were armed; one of those men said he brought the gun at Simpson’s direction. Simpson’s longtime friend and co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody. From the beginning, Simpson and his lawyers argued the incident was not a robbery, but an attempt to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a weapon and did not see any guns during the incident.

Simpson’s defense attorney, Yale Galanter, tried to portray Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make money off his famous name, and of police officers who saw an opportunity to “get” Simpson and avenge his acquittal in the Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murders. Prosecutors said Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; that it was still a crime to try to take things by force, and that the charges filed against him were appropriate.

So what’s really going on here? Whose version is closer to the truth, and do these verdicts represent justice or vengeance? I’ll take a closer look at the legal issues involved in this case, in my next post, later this week.