15 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About the OJ Simpson Trial

O.J. Simpson mug shot

(Peter K. Levy/Wikimedia Commons)

Not to alarm you, but there are entire adults alive today who weren’t when millions watched the O.J. Simpson trial. They can vote, drink, and even swear they left their keys right here. In that span of time, it’s natural for the national memory to get a little fuzzy, so it turns out there are a lot of things we thought we knew about the so-called “trial of the century” that aren’t entirely true. For instance… 

There Were Tons of “Trials of the Century”

President McKinley assassination

(T. Dart Walker/Wikimedia Commons)

Even at the time of the proceedings, the media was calling it the “trial of the century,” leading one of Simpson’s lawyers to dig up 34 times they’d done it before, as early as President McKinley’s assassination in 1901. Those Progressivists were really, really confident nothing important was going to happen for the next 99 years.

Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman Weren’t Lovers

Brentwood, Los Angeles

(Jengod/Wikimedia Commons)

Reflected in the famous bit by Chris Rock that aged like a forgotten Tupperware of chili about Ron Goldman “fucking wife in a house he’s still paying the mortgage on,” many believed Goldman was killed because of his relationship with Nicole Brown Simpson, but by all accounts, they really were just friends. Goldman was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, having witnessed Brown Simpson’s murder after returning her mother’s glasses from the restaurant where he worked -- like you do for a friend, Mr. Rock.

Simpson Didn’t Seem Angry at the Dance Recital

Simpson Brown’s sister testified that at his daughter’s dance recital hours before the killing, Simpson was hostile and menacing, and the media reported that he’d later ranted to tenant Kato Kaelin that his ex-wife was preventing him from seeing his daughter and wore a slutty dress to the recital, but video footage of Simpson just after the recital shows him “relaxed and happy” and Kaelin said he “did not seem angry” about his complaints. It was more “Man, I wish I could see my daughter more” and less “That clothes-wearing harlot will feel my wrath.”

It Wasn’t a Chase So Much As a Patient Caravan

Simpson chase

(KTVU FOX 2 San Francisco/YouTube)

Everyone remembers history’s most-watched low-speed chase, but why was it so slow? The famous white Bronco’s driver, Al Cowlings, had communicated to police that Simpson had a gun and was threatening suicide, so the police agreed not to pull them over by force and just follow them to Simpson’s home instead. Note that very few rando meth heads are afford such privileges.

He Didn’t Outspend the Prosecution

Johnnie Cochran

(Mark Winograd/Wikimedia Commons)

Ask anyone’s mom, and they’ll tell you Simpson got off because he had enough money to buy the most expensive models at the lawyer store, but that’s only because the government does, too. Simpson spent somewhere between $3 and $6 million on his defense, but the prosecution and investigation of the case cost just as much or possibly more at just over $4 million. Taxpayers were pretty mad about it, to the point that LA County’s chief accountant was giving reporters a monthly tally. News was so slow before the internet.

Simpson’s Lawyers Hated Each Other

Robert Shapiro

(Legalzoom/Wikimedia Commons)

To poke holes into such a seemingly airtight case, you’d think Simpson’s “Dream Team” would have to work like a well-oiled machine, but it turns out they were more like a rogue three-hole punch, wildly stabbing anything in their path and only incidentally the things they were supposed to. After the trial, Bob Shapiro said they were constantly fighting behind the scenes, he was offended by Johnnie Cochran’s comparison of racism to the Holocaust, and he’d never work with Cochran or F. Lee Bailey again, which is probably best for everyone.

Marcia Clark Was Slut-Shamed

Marcia Clark

(Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons)

Prosecutor Marcia Clark was notoriously femmed up after she was criticized for being too “abrasive,” because lawyers are apparently supposed to be warm and cuddly if they also insist on being ladies, but then she was shamed for being too enticing. The National Enquirer published private topless photos of her, and even a potential juror chastised her for wearing a skirt they deemed “too short,” telling her to her face that “When you sit behind there and you bend -- you can see it.” And then Judge Ito agreed! Imagine if you were just minding your own business at work and everyone started openly discussing your underwear.

Prosecutors Didn’t Think He Acted Alone

All but the most frothing of conspiracy theorists think that Simpson was somehow involved in the murder of his ex-wife, he just may not have been the only one, and the prosecution actually thought the same thing. They even made a half-assed attempt at tailing Cowlings and Simpson’s adult son, Jason, but they figured they already had a slam dunk (wait, wrong sport). Why get greedy?

A Ton of Evidence Was Left Out

In fact, the prosecution was so confident in their forensics that they chose not to present a wealth of evidence Scrooge McDuck could dive into, including items found in the Bronco (such as a passport and disguise kit) that suggested Simpson intended to flee, his suspicious statements to the police, and witnesses who respectively reported seeing the Bronco at the scene of the murder and selling Simpson a knife that matched the victims’ injuries, for reasons as arbitrary as the National Enquirer getting to them first (though Clark was understandably salty at them).

The Knife Was Never Used

Los Angeles International Airport

(Tim Bray/Wikimedia Commons)

Speaking of that knife, it was presented as evidence, but later testing revealed the presence of an oil that proved it had never been used. The murder weapon never was found; prosecutors theorized that Simpson dumped it at the airport and even smuggled a knife of their own past airport security to prove it could be done, but they decided to keep that to themselves, too.

The Glove Really Did Shrink

Probably the most famous moment of the trial occurred when Simpson tried on the glove allegedly found at his home and showed the jury that it was too small for him, supporting the defense’s claim that the glove was planted and forcing the prosecution to sputter that it must have shrunk after being bloodied and frozen. You know how liquids be! In a panic, they actually tracked down the former vice president of the company who made the gloves, who confirmed that the gloves had in fact shrunk. Unfortunately, “if it shrunk, you must conv…unk” wasn’t as catchy.

Fuhrman Lied on Those Tapes

Mark Fuhrman

(Concreteloop2/Wikimedia Commons)

The defense’s case was clinched even tighter when the man they accused of planting the glove, Detective Mark Fuhrman, claimed he’d never used racial slurs and then got caught on tape doing exactly that. That was no sci-fi sound manipulation -- he super did that -- but he also super exaggerated all the police brutality he claimed to be responsible for on those tapes. An internal investigation revealed that almost none of the incidents described matched any documented events, and obviously, the LAPD has reason to lie about that, but if a cop beat someone to death, you’d think you’d hear about it. They also admitted uncovering a culture of racism and misogyny, so they didn’t come out looking great.

The Jury (Probably) Wasn’t Biased

After Simpson was acquitted, the public consensus was that the mostly black jury was biased in his favor, but legal experts contend that such bias is rare and the prosecution simply failed to prove their case regardless of how much the jury liked football. Even 20 years later, one juror insisted their decision “wasn't based on whether or not I really thought he did it or didn't do it… The only thing that trial did was raise reasonable doubt in my mind.”

Simpson (Claims He) Didn’t Write If I Did It

If I Did It

(Beaufort Books)

It seems ludicrous that an acquitted killer would just write a confession anyway, as purported by the 2006 announcement of the upcoming release of a book called O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened, which is presumably why O.J. claims he didn’t. His oldest daughter testified that the whole thing was her idea, his former manager insists he had no involvement in the ghostwriting process, and the Juice himself said he only went along with it because he was broke. It didn’t matter anyway: The Goldman family was soon awarded the rights to the book, changed the title to If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer, made the “if” teeny tiny on the cover, and advertised “exclusive commentary” on the cover separately titled He Did It. Whatever you think about the whole thing, they’ve probably earned this.

Top image: Peter K. Levy/Wikimedia Commons

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