Race has continually been an important issue within the United States and most predominantly the criminal justice system. Racial tension in America is often thought of as being white versus black, even though that is not in fact the case. African-Americans view the system as favoring whites while trying to keep them at the bottom. While whites claim that the criminal justice system is colorblind, blacks clearly do not feel this way; whites underestimate the racial divide in the criminal justice system (Bikel, 2005). The highly publicized OJ Simpson case is well-known for being a case more about race than murder. In the 1999 Gallup Poll, 74% of people said that OJ either “probably” or “definitely” committed murder. A black male on trial for allegedly killing two whites, his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman, was left free not because the jury thought he was innocent but because they were fighting the system that has so long oppressed blacks, primarily black men. This paper is to show that OJ owes his “not guilty” verdict to his race and not his innocence.
Immediately after Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman were found dead, on June 12, 1994, outside Brown’s home in California OJ Simpson was a suspect (Linder, 2000). He was a retired football player then living a short distance from Brown’s home. Being that he was a black male accused of killing two whites, the racial tensions were already brewing.
The importance of race in this case was thought about before the start of the trial especially concerning the jury. The prosecution had decided to conduct the jury selection in downtown Los Angeles even though the crime had happened in Santa Monica. Having a trial in LA meant having a jury composed largely of minorities whereas having a trial in Santa Monica meant a mainly white jury. At the time the prosecution felt that they had enough evidence against OJ that even an overly African-American jury would vote guilty. This of course, was not the case. The final jury consisted of nine blacks, one Hispanic, and two whites, 10 being women (Linder, 2000). The prosecution made various misassumptions regarding the jury which changed the outcome of the case. Many would agree that with an all-white jury OJ would have had a guilty verdict.
The White America that had loved him dearly and claimed him as one of their own was turning their backs on him. They now viewed him as just another black man, not the celebrity they admired. Because his whites had abandoned him, OJ had no choice but to try to appeal to his black community. The defense wanted to make OJ appear “more black” so the black community, and importantly the jurors, felt they could relate to him. After the jury selection, the jurors had a tour of the crime scene as well as OJ’s home, where the defense team added pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. while taking pictures down that showed OJ with his white counterparts (Jones, 2007).
While the trial, beginning on January 24, 1995, was...