Was due process followed in the Simpson trial? What myths surround the due-process model?
Why did the Simpson trial gain so much media and community attention? Did the myths prevalent about the criminal justice system contribute to the popularity of this case?
What myths prevail in society about the Simpson case? Why? Did Simpson's celebrity, social, or racial status influence the public's perceptions about the case? Could the construction and spread of myths about this case have been avoided at the time of Simpson's trial? After his acquittal?
Which theory(ies) of criminal justice explain(s) the investigation and the final outcome of the criminal case? Was the outcome of the civil case lenient or harsh? Was it discriminatory?
Would the outcome of the criminal case have been the same if Simpson was not an African-American or was not a celebrity? Did excessive media coverage and public interest in the criminal case influence its final outcome?
According to a CNN report, the prosecution costs in the Simpson trial were about $9 million, while the defense costs were in the range of $4-7 million. Are these legal costs justified? Can our criminal justice system divert public funds to deal with more important social problems?
Did the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) rush into naming Simpson as a suspect? Who else should have been a suspect in this case? Were other leads followed up effectively? Does the case have any overtones of police or legal inefficiency?
What if Simpson was awarded death penalty? Would it have had any effect on society and on the crime rate?
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Perception is critical in seeking to dissect the lessons of the Simpson trial. While some would argue that due process was not followed, I tend to think that there was a following of due process. In other words, Mr. Simpson received a fair trial. The fact that the defendant was not forced, compelled to self- incriminate, or even testify is one aspect of this. At the same time, Mr. Simpson was able to present a defense that created reasonable doubt, another element of the due process standards. Finally, Mr. Simpson could not be retried under double jeopardy statutes, reflective of how due process was understood in the case. If there was a myth about the due process element in the proceedings, it might have existed in how Mr. Simpson was found not guilty in a criminal trial, but guilty in the civil one. The disparity between both led some to believe that an aspect of due process must have been violated with different verdicts in the same case. However, this merely pointed to a different level of proof that needed to be established in the civil case, as opposed to a different threshold that needed to be met in the criminal one.
The trial itself gained so much in way of attention and media focus because it represented a "perfect storm" convergence of community attitudes and public interest. Simpson himself was a celebrity, one who made his fame out of the machinery of the sports industrial complex and the Hollywood cinema domain. His public stature was due in large part to a community obsessed with both dimensions of fame. It is not every day that the NBA Finals are interrupted for a low speed police chase. The fact that Simpson was able to generate so much in public attention even before the trial ...
Examining the implications of the Simpson trial in larger society and legal realms.