Basketball, O.J. Simpson, Sports

Sports Law, Spaw, Lorts: O.J. Simpson Edition

It’s difficult to put into words just how racially divisive the O.J. Simpson trial was. That’s my first excuse for why this post is so bad. For nearly a year and a half, the entire nation was tuned into the trial. An entire constellation of ridiculous people became our first reality stars: the poodle-haired Marcia Clark, smooth-talkin’ Johnny Cochran, n-bomb aficionado Mark Furman, hirsute little person Lance Ito. Or maybe the stars were DNA evidence and reasonable doubt. Because for a year and change, America was riveted by a criminal trial. By lawyers and evidence and rulings and motions and cross examinations. And while we still occasionally watch trials of the century, we don’t do it with near as much vigor as we did when Orenthal James Simpson was indicted. And we definitely don’t break down along nearly the same rigid racial lines.

To put it into terms that current law school students will understand (an overwhelming majority of whom don’t remember the trial), O.J. Simpson was a lot like Justin Bieber. Like, that polarizing.

Let’s talk sports….

THE JUICE IS BACK!!!

A judge in Nevada agreed to reopen the armed robbery case against O.J. Simpson last Friday. Simpson, who is behind bars for nine to 33 years, did not appear in court for the hearing, but the possible reemergence of the 90s bogeyman is enough to get every courtroom television channel and 24-hour news station boned up about the possibility.

Simpson’s attorney, Patricia Palm, is seeking a new trial for Simpson on the basis of poor representation at his first trial. Really poor representation. Here is the meat of the matter:

But Palm said Simpson wants a chance to show that [Yale] Galanter was in Las Vegas and knew in advance about Simpson’s plan to retrieve items from the memorabilia dealers that Simpson claimed were stolen from him after his 1995 acquittal in the Los Angeles slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Galanter, a Miami lawyer who represented Simpson in other cases before the arrest in Las Vegas, denied during trial that he had anything to do with the ill-fated Las Vegas caper.

“Judge, I tell you … I wasn’t there,” Galanter said at the time. “I had nothing to do with it.”

I understand that in every heist, there are roles. Some guys do the heavy lifting, while someone has to drive the getaway car. But one guy who shouldn’t be involved in the actual commissioning of a crime is your attorney. And if he even has to deny that he was there? Cut him loose, Juice.

So O.J. Simpson may be put on trial again. And every cable channel will try to convince us why we were in love with the kooky (alleged) ladykiller in the first place. The allures of Simpson were manifold. Not only was the man an affable, confusing presence in American life in the 90s, a beguiling figure who sold rental cars and football knowledge on one hand and… well, was alleged to have murdered his ex-wife and date on the other, but he also both fed sick antediluvian racial stereotypes and shattered them completely. And when he was found not guilty back in 1995, close to half of my high school rose up in a great whoop of exaltation as nearly half of the school sat slumped in their chairs. I don’t remember what the smattering of Asian and Hispanic kids did.

But the weirdest thing about the new trial will be that we probably won’t care all that much. It’s been almost 20 years since the first go-round, and I feel a bit like my dad must have felt when the old, decrepit Richard Nixon appeared on television as an elder statesman. Searching my brain for why exactly we ever got so worked up in the first place.

DAVID STERN’S MUSTACHE, A MEMORIAM

David Stern announced yesterday that he would be leaving his post as commissioner of the NBA in 2014. As one of the longest-running and most powerful commissioners in professional sports history, Stern’s career deserves every news article and retrospective that comes its way. As the epitome of a successful legal career, however, his career only merits a sad mention from a pseudonymous clown.

David Stern graduated from Columbia Law in 1966. Back then, the internet didn’t exist, so young David Stern probably didn’t know what firm he should work for, and definitely didn’t know what a decent first year associate’s salary was. Anyway, he caught on at Proskauer Rose, and that is where he began his career with the NBA, first as outside counsel. After that, he moved in-house as the NBA’s General Counsel. It wasn’t until 1984 that David Stern ascended to the position of commissioner. It wasn’t until 1984 that America came face to face with… this.

RAP SHEET ROLL CALL

* A former Pittsburgh Steelers doctor has been indicted for prescribing steroids. Not to the overstuffed manimal freaks in his care as an NFL doctor, he assured Steelers president Dan Rooney. Not to those cartoonishly massive aberrants.

* Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, was arrested for possession of pot yesterday. Honey Badger don’t care. Honey Badger should care. Your apathy toward bee stings and drug trouble is worrying everyone, Honey Badger. Ease up on the not giving of single f**ks, okay?

* Mark Grace was indicted on DUI charges yesterday. While I would normally attempt a joke here, Grace won my eternal devotion by chain-smoking butts in the locker room after games. It is sad to see such a hero of mine finally felled by addiction.


Nevada judge agrees to reopen Simpson’s armed robbery case
[Sports Illustrated]
David Stern has date for retirement [ESPN]

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