Sat. May 18th, 2024

A Wild Ride of Similarities: O.J. and Trump on Trial!

Alex Thompson By Alex Thompson May8,2024

O.J. Simpson died Thursday at age 76 of prostate cancer. Perhaps the greatest running back of all time, he was acquitted of the double murder of his ex-wife and her friend.

Bloody footprints in his size were found at the scene of the crime, as were blood drops seeming to match his DNA and a glove identical in style to one bought by his slain ex-wife and worn by him at televised football games.

When the verdict was announced on Oct. 3, 1995, most Black Americans hailed the outcome, while most whites denounced the verdict as a miscarriage of justice. Gil Garcetti, one of the prosecutors, lamented that the verdict was “based on emotion that overcame reason.”

I appeared on television then with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who seemed delighted that Simpson had gotten away with two murders. I doubt that they really thought O.J. was innocent. Heart of hearts, they were likely ecstatic that a Black man had beaten the system, as many whites had done — as Donald Trump is trying to do now.

There were many imperfections in the Simpson trial. The judge lost control of the courtroom, and allowed the “Dream Team” of defense lawyers to ride roughshod over the prosecutors, Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, who were astonishingly inept. Darden and Clark allegedly had a romantic relationship, but in those days, beyond some raised eyebrows, no one thought there was anything wrong with that.

There is a startling parallel between the Simpson case and the prosecutions of Donald Trump. Most Democrats believe Trump is guilty as charged in the four separate indictments (two state, two federal). Most Republicans, at least MAGA Republicans, believe Trump is the victim of a political conspiracy to prevent his reelection. Neither side fusses overly much with the evidence.

One judge to have escaped MAGA trashings is Trump-appointed Federal District Judge Eileen Cannon of Port St. Lucie, Florida, who has the purloined classified documents case before her. Cannon is doing everything she can to eviscerate that prosecution — which is the most open-and-shut of all — with weird rulings that have drawn criticism from a raft of lawyers and federal judges. Trump claims that Biden wants to impeach her or destroy her reputation because she appears to have sided with him.

Polls show that the public has lost respect for the justice system, which is imperfect and suffers from sexism, racism and partisan politics — you don’t need me to tell you that.

In her excellent book “Just Pursuit,” Laura Coates, a former prosecutor and now a CNN anchor and legal analyst, says it all:

“Blackness is an implicit charge in the criminal justice system. Black defendants must defend against the charge as much as the stereotype that negates the presumption of innocence … their first line of defense will have to be combating the historic mistreatment, prejudice and racist attitudes toward them — it is the Black defendant versus the history of the United States.”

The justice system has not infrequently convicted and jailed the innocent. Since 1992, the nonprofit Innocence Project has employed DNA evidence to establish the innocence of convicted defendants. The group has exonerated 375 incarcerated people. They are now all free, many after almost a lifetime in jail. Of those wrongfully convicted, 60 percent are African American, 8 percent are Latino and 2 percent are Asian.

Despite the stunning record of success, the organization reports that there are a “staggering number of innocent people who remain incarcerated.”

Jan. 6, 2021, seems a long time ago, and yet Trump has yet to be brought to trial for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. His trial in New York is for concealing a payoff to a porn actress to cover up an extramarital liaison before the 2016 election. Some commentators, like former prosecutor Norman Eisen — who has written a book about the case, “Trying Trump: A Guide to His First Election Interference Criminal Trial” — plausibly see a deeper meaning in the story: a tale of Trump’s gateway imbroglio in election interference, using fraud and deceit to achieve power. Trump succeeded in 2016; he failed in 2021.

Trump, thus far, has led a charmed legal life. He should be convicted in New York as, from what I know of the evidence, the case against him is overwhelming.

If he is acquitted, however, it will be an occasion for revelry among the MAGAs, and the evidence won’t matter at all.

Trump said he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and his base wouldn’t care, just as Simpson murdered two people and his base didn’t care. No one is supposed to be above the law, but when it comes to the celebrated, the rich and the powerful, I do wonder.

James D. Zirin, author and legal analyst, is a former federal prosecutor in New York’s Southern District. He is also the host of the public television talk show and podcast Conversations with Jim Zirin.

Alex Thompson

By Alex Thompson

Alex is an award-winning journalist with a passion for investigative reporting. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Alex has covered a wide range of topics from politics to entertainment. Known for in-depth research and compelling storytelling, Alex's work has been featured in major news outlets around the world.

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2 thoughts on “A Wild Ride of Similarities: O.J. and Trump on Trial!”
  1. O.J. Simpson was definitely a controversial figure, and his trial was a wild ride of emotions and legal maneuvers. It’s interesting to see the similarities between his case and the current legal battles of Donald Trump. Both cases sparked strong reactions among different groups in society, highlighting the complexities of the justice system.

  2. It’s fascinating to see how O.J. Simpson’s trial echoes the current situation with Donald Trump. Both cases have sparked intense emotions and divided opinions along racial lines. The mishandling of the Simpson trial and the questionable tactics used by the defense team seem eerily similar to what we are witnessing in the Trump investigations. It’s a wild ride of similarities that raises important questions about justice and privilege.

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