Simpson Murder Trials

views updated


SIMPSON MURDER TRIALS. On 12 June 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman died of multiple stab wounds in Brentwood, California. Nicole's ex-husband, O. J. Simpson, a football celebrity, was questioned by the police. On 17 June, prior to his arrest, Simpson departed on a low-speed chase on the Los Angeles and Orange County freeways. He entered a plea of not guilty on 22 July, and Judge Lance A. Ito was assigned to hear the case. The trial opened on 24 January 1995 with the prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden delivering opening statements. Three days later Simpson's book I Want to Tell You appeared, offering his story in print while the trial was on television. A media feeding frenzy was only starting.

In the trial, the prosecution emphasized Simpson's long-term spousal violence, and the defense attacked the prosecution's physical evidence by forcing disclosure of procedural errors by the police. The Simpson defense team prevailed. On 2 October, after four hours of deliberation, the overwhelmingly African American jury acquitted Simpson. Long-standing differences and hostility between the police and the black community always hovered near the surface of the trial.

On 4 May 1995 the Goldman family filed a wrongful death civil suit against Simpson. That trial opened on 23 October 1996, and on 4 February 1997 the jury awarded the plaintiffs $8.5 million. Four years later, the plaintiffs still sought to collect the judgment, while Simpson claimed to be looking for the "real killer."


Dershowitz, Alan M. Reasonable Doubts. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.

Schuetz, Janice, and Lin S. Lilley. The O. J. Simpson Trials: Rhetoric, Media, and the Law. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1999.

Gordon MorrisBakken

About this article

Simpson Murder Trials

Updated About content Print Article