Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Blacks’ War on the American Jury Trial System: The O.J. Simpson Civil Trial

N.S.: The other night, I was talking to my partner in crime, David in TN, about the George Zimmerman trial. I noted how black actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was a member of the “experts” panel on HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell (and, I believe, Nancy Grace) Show, was such a fanatical, aggressive Trayvonista, that she would she would jump in and speak, when the black guest host, defense attorney Joey Jackson, called on white member Frank Taafe (George Zimmerman’s old friend and neighbor) to speak, would then obnoxiously say to Taafe, when he finally got to speak, “Now behave yourself, Frank,” and was so racially chauvinistic that she thought every prosecution witness helped the prosecution’s case, even incompetent medical examiner, Dr. Shiping Bao.

In my experience, Ralph is not an anomaly.

This reminded David of the O.J. Simpson trials, particularly the civil case. He started talking about the book Daniel Petrocelli had written about his experiences trying the civil suit against Simpson, on behalf of the latter’s victims. I strongly doubt that any leading trial attorney would dare write such a book today. Indeed, things have degenerated morally within the bar to such a point where writing such a book might lead to a lawyer being disbarred.

Note that the O.J. Simpson civil trial was in 1996-1997. Blacks have gotten considerably more aggressively racist since then.

* * *
Blacks nationwide celebrated what the following pictures depict of what O.J. Simpson did to his ex-wife Nicole, and to Ron Goldman, when he was acquitted of their murders in 1995. They were later outraged, and remain outraged, that he should ever be punished, even financially, much less criminally for his crimes against his two murder victims, or for the crimes he committed against the men whom he later kidnapped and robbed in Las Vegas. Most blacks in this country are adamantly opposed this nation’s system of laws, and believe that they should apply to whites, but not to blacks.


Left side view

Above two and below: Murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson, after her ex-husband was done with her. “When you go black, you don’t go back.”


Murder victim Ron Goldman, after his introduction to the Butcher of Brentwood

Ex-prosecutor claims O.J. Simpson attorney tampered with glove

"O.J. Simpson greets reporters ahead of a court date. (Fred Prouser, REUTERS/April 6, 2005)"

Daniel Petrocelli's Book on the Simpson Civil Trial
By David in TN

Today I went back and reread two chapters of Daniel Petrocelli's 1998 book on the O.J. Simpson wrongful death civil trial, Triumph of Justice. Chapter 18 was about a "mock trial" a month before the actual trial, and Chapter 20 covered jury selection.

The mock trial had a jury with three blacks. Petrocelli and his colleagues watched the mock trial jury deliberate. Most of the white females were quiet and seemed intimidated. The Hispanics were "open-minded" but leaned toward the defense. The blacks dominated the discussion and were "fervent, angry, and zealous." They overwhelmed and intimidated the other jurors who were arguing to decide on the evidence. Petrocelli wrote:

"It was no contest; the nonblack jurors were getting blown away. The less educated blacks, in particular the women, were the most vocal... It was clear that no matter how strong the evidence, some jurors would not convict. It was clear we had little or no chance with such jurors."

Petrocelli wrote, "I was devastated."

Decision Quest, the jury consultants, convened an all-black focus group. The Goldman attorneys watched a tape of their discussion on race. Petrocelli was amazed how differently they viewed the world than he did. They complained endlessly about the police. "All cops are gonna lie." The justice system was "rigged against them."

One man was convinced the court system "was in cahoots with the prison system to jail blacks for money." All of them loved the not guilty verdict in the Simpson criminal trial.

The black focus group thought the wrongful death suit "was against the law" and saw it as a "vendetta." One stated that a "special law had been passed to let the Goldmans bring the civil suit JUST TO GET SIMPSON." One woman was so angry she could almost spit. “‘Because he is a black man, and a black man of power, they've got to bring him down.' There was no argument."

Research showed black women in the mock trial and focus group were most favorable to Simpson. Black men were sometimes more realistic about Simpson, but still supportive. Petrocelli wrote, "There seemed no realistic chance of getting such a juror to vote in our favor."

At voir dire for the Santa Monica civil trial, a large number of blacks received jury summons, most were from other areas than Santa Monica. The pool was still majority white.

Most black prospective jurors were so open in their bias, that they were removed. The plaintiffs still had to justify every black they removed for cause. The defense tried to keep white females off the jury.

The 12 originally selected were five white males, four white females, one male who described himself as Asian/black, one black female, and one Mexican male.

The black female was bumped from the jury late in the trial because she didn't tell the court her daughter worked in the DA's office and knew Christopher Darden. She was replaced by a mixed race black female.

An alternate, who was a black female, said after the trial she would have voted for the defense.

* * *
Jury Decides Simpson Must Pay $25 Million in Punitive Award
By B. Drummond Ayres Jr
Published: February 11, 1997
New York Times

Writing one of the final chapters in O. J. Simpson's long legal case, a civil court jury here ordered him today to pay a financially debilitating $25 million in punitive damages to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman.

The huge award constituted still another pointed contradiction of the much-disputed 1995 criminal court verdict that found Mr. Simpson not guilty of the double slaying that has gripped the nation with its uncomfortable questions about murder, wife battering, racism, celebrity and the quality of American justice.

The same jury had awarded the Goldman family 8.5 million in compensatory damages last week.

Mr. Simpson does not now have $33.5 million and likely never will. So it is but a guess how much less the plaintiffs' families will get, once the appeals and future court hearings are completed and Mr. Simpson's time in court, already pushing three years, comes to an end.

The surviving family members were overjoyed after hearing today's decision, but they insisted that the awards, while more than welcome, were not the big issue in their civil action. Rather, they explained, they were looking for closure -- ''justice,'' some called it -- to the worst thing that had ever happened to them.

''The jury decision of last Tuesday was the only decision important to us, to find the killer of my son and Nicole responsible,'' said Mr. Goldman's father, Fred. ''The money is not an issue. It never has been. It's holding the man who killed my son and Nicole responsible.''

Speaking for the Brown family, its lawyer, John Q. Kelly, said the issue was never money because that would have required putting a price tag on murder. ''And that's something you can't do,'' Mr. Kelly said.

Before the jury could make either a compensatory or punitive award, it first was required to determine whether Mr. Simpson was the killer.

Mr. Simpson, whose appeals will face both legal and financial hurdles, was not in court to hear today's verdict, which was permissible because the case was a civil action. And neither he nor his lawyers made a statement afterward.

The jurors who chose to talk after leaving the courtroom -- the court identified them only by number -- generally said the plaintiffs had more than made their case. That was the precise opposite of what jurors on the criminal court panel had said in their out-of-court discussions of their deliberations.

''Finding O. J. Simpson liable of the murders and acting with oppression and malice was one of the easiest decisions I have ever had to make,'' said Juror No. 11, a woman in her 30's.

Juror No. 266, a woman in her 40's later identified as Deena Mullen, said her decision was based on everything she heard in court, especially the evidence that by now has become part of the nation's legal lore: the bloody-soled shoes, the incidents of wife-beating, the bloody gloves, the sweat-suited figure in the dark, Mr. Simpson's taking the stand. ''He was not credible,'' she said.

Both juries heard basically the same case, with much emphasis placed on blood evidence by both sides. But there were some important differences.

The criminal case was tried by a predominantly black jury, and conviction required a finding that Mr. Simpson committed the June 12, 1994, slayings beyond any reasonable doubt. The civil case was tried before a predominantly white jury, and a verdict required only 9 of 12 votes, with the basic legal standard being that in all probability Mr. Simpson committed the slayings.

In the criminal case, the defense made much of allegations that police investigators were racists out to get a black American sports and entertainment celebrity. In the civil case, the jury heard little about racism because the court ruled that such allegations were inflammatory and speculative.

Further, the civil jury saw some new evidence, including pictures of Mr. Simpson wearing shoes like those that left bloody prints at the slaying scene outside Mrs. Simpson's condominium.

Finally, in the criminal case, Mr. Simpson did not take the stand, again his option. But in the civil case, Mr. Simpson was called to testify, the plaintiffs' option, and he gave what was generally considered a mixed performance.

Because of the complicated manner in which the civil suit was filed, the $8.5 million award was granted only to the divorced parents of Mr. Goldman, Sharon Rufo and Fred Goldman. The second award will be shared by Fred Goldman and the parents of Mrs. Simpson, Louis and Juditha Brown, who filed suit on behalf of the Simpson children, Sydney, 11, and Justin, 8, the ultimate recipients of that share of the money.

Both awards are expected to be appealed. They are subject to review and, in the case of the second award, very possibly reduction by Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki, who presided over the four-month-long proceedings.

Under California law, punitive damages are supposed to factor in the reprehensibility of the crime but also should bear some resemblance to the defendant's worth.

Thus, there is the question of whether Mr. Simpson, whose once-great wealth of $10 million or so has been sharply whittled by his many legal fees, is worth anywhere close to $33.5 million.

He pleaded in court that he was more than $850,000 in debt. But the plaintiff families argued that he was worth more than $15 million, taking into consideration his possible future earnings, a permissible legal factor. They also pointed out that he still lived in a mansion, still had household servants, still drove expensive imported cars and, as a self-described golf addict, still spent much of his time on the links.

Whatever size is eventually determined for the awards, both the Goldmans and the Browns made clear throughout the proceedings that although they wanted money from Mr. Simpson as punishment and in recompense for the loss of loved ones, what they wanted even more was resolution of a case whose earlier criminal court verdict of innocence left them devastated and depressed.

After last Tuesday's $8.5 million verdict, which the jury of six men and six women agreed upon unanimously, the families expressed great satisfaction, noting that the award could not have been made had not the panel first determined that Mr. Simpson, more likely than not, was the person who fatally slashed his former wife and her friend.

After today's verdict was announced, the families again expressed satisfaction. But that satisfaction, great as it was because of the punishing size of the award, nevertheless loses a bit of its impact because in the two votes required to reach the $25 million figure, the panel first split 11 to 1 and then 10 to 2.

The first vote was on whether to award any punitive damages at all. The second was on how much to award.

Regarding the 10-to-2 vote, one of the dissenting jurors, No. 294, Lisa Theriot, who is in her 20's, said she thought the punitive damages should have been some millions less because she did not believe Mr. Simpson had $25 million. But she agreed with the other jurors that he should be punished severely in terms of money. ''We all felt that he has the potential to make a lot of money,'' she said. ''We didn't take the defense's argument that he was washed up.''

In order for Mr. Simpson to appeal the awards, he must first come up with a bond that equals 150 percent of them, a huge monetary challenge, however much his future earning potential. If he can't produce such a bond, his next best hope is that Judge Fujisaki trims the awards.

Generally speaking, experts in punitive damages say, such awards typically come to 2 percent of a defendant's net worth.

''The size of this award seems to be very, very large by any standard,'' said Michael Rustad, a professor of law and specialist in suit damages at Suffolk University in Boston. ''It seems to be a symbolic award. My best guess is that the appeals court or the trial judge is likely to reduce the amount.''

In dismissing the jury today and concluding the civil proceedings, Judge Fujisaki acknowledged the task before him but gave no indication where he was headed on the reduction issue. He simply thanked the jury for its work.

''It's been a difficult case, a long case,'' he said. ''Whether the case is over for you, it is probably not over for me, for some time to come.''

Several practicing civil litigators expressed astonishment at the size of the award, and some cautioned that the judge could cut it down in light of California law, which instructs the jury to punish but not destroy the defendant financially.

''It's stupendous,'' said Browne Greene, whose largest verdict was a $22 million award against a bus company in an injury case last year. ''It should be cut, it really should, and I'm a plaintiff's lawyer. Knowing the infamy that this man lives in now, I think that his chance of making money would be slim to none.''

Indeed, Mr. Greene said, these damages probably mark the end of the Simpson case, because Mr. Simpson will simply not be financially able to mount an appeal.

Stephen Yagman, another civil litigator in California, said the verdict was 10 times what he had expected. Short of taking up residence in France or another country without a reciprocal judgment agreement with the United States, Mr. Simpson ''never will have a penny in his pocket the rest of his life.''

Brian Lysaght, a former federal prosecutor who does commercial litigation in California, noted that damage awards are frequently reduced or overturned on appeal. But like other lawyers interviewed, he said he doubted that any reduction would be significant enough to allow Mr. Simpson to post an appeal bond.

''The jury obviously focused on the reprehensibility of the conduct,'' he said, ''particularly in view of the fact that he's not going to be punished anywhere else.''

Nor will bankruptcy bring him much relief, because under California law, damages for malicious conduct cannot be discharged. Mr. Greene raised the possibility that financial ruin could even be a factor in Mr. Simpson's losing custody of his two children, now 11 and 8.

''If he is financially unfit and cannot support his children, it is one of the considerations in the family law. The only issue is what's best for the child. The fact that a jury has come back with a verdict like this would be quite a compelling argument. Is this the kind of environment and atmosphere that they should be brought up in?''

Robert Rabin, a professor of law at Stanford, said the size of the award had to be seen as sending a message.

''Mostly what it reflects is a real sense of outrage, that they really didn't believe him,'' he said. ''They wanted to make a statement to that effect, which is what punitive damages do.''

Vivian Berger, a professor of law at Columbia, agreed. ''This is as close as a civil jury can come,'' she said, ''to declaring him a murderer.''

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