Criminal Court: O. J. Simpson Murder Case

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Introduction

The criminal justice system is the branch of judiciary that is mandated to deal with all criminal matters that are brought to court for determination. Usually, when a criminal matter is brought before a court of law, there is always a procedure that is followed in determining the matters and issues at hand. This discussion looks at the procedures that are usually followed and in doing so this discussion shall use the famous of O.J. Simpson case.

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Summary and analysis of the facts of the case

The O.J. Simpson was a case involving O.J. Simpson who was the accused person and it was a case of murder which was brought to court by the state and thus was referred to as People vs Simpson. The trial of O.J. Simpson was held in the Superior Court sitting in California in the County of Los Angeles in the year 1995 (Benedict & Winkler, 2006, p.34). O.J. Simpson was renowned American football star as well an accomplished actor. In the murder case, Simpson was charged with murder of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and a close ally of his former wife Ronald Goldman. The trial lasted for close to one year and went down the history books as a criminal case that received the highest publicity n the history of America.

The Supreme Court heard the fateful events of 12th October 1994 which culminated into the trial of one time soccer Orenthal James Simpson in full glare of the cameras. The court heard that on the night of 12th October 1994, a man who was unaccompanied used the rear entrance to the palatial resident of ex-wife to the football star Nicole Simpson. The man is said to have slashed the star’s ex-wife a number of times causing grossly severe injuries around her neck area. Those who later saw the body describe the injuries sustained by Nicole as so severe that the neck was almost detached from the rest of the body. The man is then said to have turned to the friend of Nicole Ronald Goldman who was with her at the time and stabbed him several times before fleeing away in the dark. It was not until very late in the night that a neighbor discovered the two bodies and reported the incident to the authorities after which investigations commenced.

Meanwhile, Nicole’s ex-husband Simpson is said to have flown to Chicago where he was set to attend some business meetings (Blohm, 2008, p.12). When he was informed of the death of his ex-wife, Simpson did not ask any questions regarding how it happened but is said to have smashed the glass of a window in his hotel and he sustained a deep cut on his hand. He flew back later that day where he was questioned by the police over the murder. Having conducted their investigations, the police came to a conclusion the Simpson was culpable and warrants of arrests were issued against him.

The Trial

The trial of O.J. Simpson began in January 1995 (Aaseng, 1995, p.123). The prosecution team had a large number of witnesses all of whom testified to the fact that Simpson had the motive to kill his ex-wife. On the other hand, the defense team hired by Simpson popularly known as the Dream Team also had their set of witnesses who sought to give evidence that could exonerate Simpson. After a trial that lasted about ten months and whose proceedings were televised, it came to the surprise of many that the jury found the former football star not guilty of the charges that had been leveled against him.

By the time both parties were making their final submissions, it became evident that the jury was already getting exhausted with the length and seemingly never ending trial. The court was being presided over by judge Ito who was also under criticism for allowing the sluggish pace of the trial. Three hours after the final submissions were made the jury made its verdict where it announced the O.J. Simpson was not guilty.

However, it is quite that this verdict did not go well with the families of the deceased and three months after, Simpson was facing yet another civil suit which was instituted in Santa Monica by the family of Kim Goldman who was the sister to one of the deceased Ronald Goldman (Carper & West, 2007, p.65). The verdict of the jury in this case however turned out to be totally different from what the previous jury had found. Simpson was found to have caused the death of his former wife and her friend by inflicting grievous injuries on the now deceased’s and was required to pay compensatory damages to the families of the deceased.

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The O.J. Simpson case has helped bring out sharply contrasting differences between criminal procedure and civil procedure. It is important to point out that O.J. Simpson was found not guilty under when he underwent the criminal trial. However, months after when he went through civil proceedings, he was found to have caused the wrongful death of his ex-wife and her acquaintance (Rice, 1996, p.12). It is important to point out that criminal procedure varies from civil procedure and that helps explain why Simpson was exonerated in one procedure yet found culpable in another. One major difference between criminal procedures and civil procedure is the burden of proof required in each case. While in civil procedure it the standard of proof is on a balance of probabilities, in criminal procedure, it is beyond reasonable doubt.

Roles of Court Personnel

Looking at the case of O.J. Simpson, there are some court personnels who played a significant role in the case. The prosecutor is the person who brought the case to court on behalf of the state. The main role of the prosecutor was to bring evidence showing that O.J. Simpson was guilty of killing his ex-wife as well as the friend to the ex-wife. The Dream Team on the other hand was the defense team that represented O.J. Simpson whose duty was to bring evidence showing that indeed Simpson was not guilty as accused and thus exonerate him. The jury also played a major role in determining whether Simpson was guilty whereby the jury found him not guilty.

Application of the rules of law

In any criminal case, the rules are that normally the prosecution begins with bringing its evidence. The defense then follows and makes its submissions after which the jury deliberates after which the judge makes the ruling. The rules applicable in criminal matters are that the burden of proof should be beyond reasonable doubt without which the prosecution cannot win the case as it was seen in the case of Simpson.

Structure of the Courts

The case of O. J. Simpson was heard by the Supreme Court with its sittings in California. This is the highest court in the land and it is a court of last determination. This means that any decision that is made by this court cannot be appealed against. Subject to the establishment of the congress, courts have been classified into two major categories which are trial courts and appellate courts.

The Supreme Court is headed by the Chief Justice of the country. He is assisted in his work by other judges who are normally eight in number. Matters brought to this court are quite limited and they are always beginning either in state courts or federal. Matters brought before this court usually involve the determination of fundamental questions regarding federal law or constitutional matters.

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The trial courts also known as district courts normally have jurisdiction to entertain all kinds of federal cases though their jurisdiction is limited. However, there are two trial courts in America which are special in that have jurisdiction that is nationwide but only over cases of a particular nature.

There are also the appellate courts whose name suggests their main purpose. They are referral courts meaning that matters brought before these courts are normally from another court where parties to the case normally seek to have some issues reviewed by the appellate court.

References

Aaseng, N. (1995). The O.J. Simpson trial: what it shows us about our legal system. London: Walker.

Benedict, M & Winkler, J. (2006). The history of Ohio law. Ohio: Ohio University Press.

Blohm, C. (2008). The O.J. Simpson case. New York: Gale.

Carper, D. & West, B. (2007). Understanding the law. Cengage Learning: New York.

Rice, E. (1996). The O.J. Simpson trial. California: Lucent Books.

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