O.J. Simpson: Convicted by the Media

Next weekend is the 10th anniversary of the death of Nicole Simpson. O.J., who was acquitted of the murder but found liable in civil court for her "wrongful death" is giving interviews. He maintains his innocence and asserts he was convicted by the media.

We are well aware that most people in this country believe OJ was guilty and got off due to great defense lawyers, not-so-great prosecutors, and the race card. We're not one of those people. We followed both trials very closely, know many of the lawyers involved, and have never been convinced that O.J. killed his wife or asked anyone else to kill his wife.

We also believe, on the basis of information in the public domain, including court filings, that Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, Michael Skakel, Louise Woodward and the parents of JonBenet Ramsey are innocent.

So why do so many people believe they are guilty? Because guilt sells. The media runs with guilt. Remember how the media convicted Gary Condit? Yet, he was innocent of the murder of Chandra Levy. The media convicted Richard Jewell in the Atlanta bombings case. He was innocent.

Think of all the innocent people released from prison after 20 years for crimes they didn't commit. Can you remember one of their names? Not likely. The media reports their release and unless they become activists, never mentions them again. The media focuses on the guilty because guilt sells.

Guilt sells. What a sad statement of affairs for a country whose criminal justice system is grounded in the presumption of innocence.

So, as you listen to the interviews with O.J. Simpson this week, remember, he was found not guilty by a jury that heard the best evidence the prosecution had to offer. Among that evidence was testimony presented by a cop who later pleaded guilty to perjury for lying on the stand as to whether he had ever used the "N" word.

There is a race factor in our justice system, and it doesn't matter whether the defendant is rich like O.J. or Kobe Bryant or Michael Jackson....ultimately, they all get painted with that broad brush. Those with resources to fight the race factor and educate their juries can prevail. Those without those resources are among the 2 million Americans locked in our countries prisons and jails.

The answer is not to blame the rich defendants for being able to "buy their way out." They are only buying the level playing field and fair trial that the Constitution guarantees them. Instead, we should be asking how we can provide that same quality of counsel to those without funds, to those who are indigent.

Everyone deserves a fair trial and adequate representation by qualified counsel. If they can't afford it, it's the Government's job to provide it for them. Instead of chiding Kobe and O.J. and Michael and Scott for being able to obtain the best legal representation available, why aren't we demanding that everyone charged with a heinous crime have access to the same quality of repesentation?

Some will ask us whether there is any convicted person (or person under the umbrella of suspicion) we will acknowledge as being guilty. The answer is yes. Jeffrey Dahmer; Richard Allen Davis (convicted of killing Polly Klass); Andrew Cunanan (killed on a boat in Miami while a suspect in the murder of Gianni Versaci and others during a cross-country killing spree. He was never tried in a court of law); Ted Bundy; Charles Manson; Ira Einhorn, and several others.

But this week belongs to O.J. He was found not guilty of his wife's murder and has spent the last ten years raising his children while battling a $33 million civil judgment against him for his wife's death. About the only thing they couldn't take from his was his pension. And everyone still looks at him like a murderer who got off. Not. He's a man who was fairly tried and determined by a jury of his peers to be innocent.

The FBI reported today that the blood found in JonBenet Ramsey's underwear did not match anyone in their CODIS database--or the family. Doesn't that mean the killer's still out there? Perhaps getting ready to kill again?

The media should not be the arbiter of guilt and innocence. Trials should take place in courtrooms, not living rooms. Juries, who hear all of the witnesses and view all of the evidence, should make the decisions--not the rest of us watching cable infotainment shows where the prosecution-oriented guilt salesmen and tv anchors always outnumber the defenders.

O.J. is innocent in the eyes of the law. Let him have his say. Forget what the media has told you for once, and listen to him. He may be telling the truth.

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