Thursday, June 12, 2008

This Day In History - OJ

If the gloves don't fit, OJ's full of shit.

Wow. Today marks 14 years since the murder of Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson in what has to be considered one of the most famous unsolved mysteries in the history of the U.S. justice system. The L.A. district attorneys at the time had enough evidence to hold a trial, but were lacking critical evidence that could have tied the suspect, Orenthal Simpson (apparently some sort of famous athlete of some kind), to the crime scene. If only they had definitive proof that the suspect was at the crime scene - you know, maybe his blood or something. If only they had a way to test the blood that they found - you know, something like DNA testing that is commonly used today by crime labs and TV shows alike. If only they could have found a footprint with a distinctive tread pattern at the scene, and then tied the pattern to a pair of shoes of the same size to the suspect. If only they could have found the victim's blood on articles of the suspect's clothing, or in the suspect's car. But alas, none of these items were presented into evidence*, the suspect was found not guilty and this case remains unsolved. Thank god that the acquitted suspect is still searching for the real killers, or this case might remain unsolved forever.

The OJ Simpson trial was quite a spectacle. But the trial did do one thing for America. It spurred the public's interest in DNA evidence and crime scene investigations (forensics) in general. While there were lots of cop shows and lawyer shows before the OJ trial, I cannot think of too many that were related to forensics. "Quincy" is the only one that comes to mind. Since then, the following forensics-focused shows have aired on TV and have flourished (these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head):

- CSI: Miami
- Without a Trace
- Cold Case
- Crossing Jordan

In shows like these (and even in real-life trials), DNA evidence is considered practically infallible. Fourteen years ago - not so much. I have a feeling that, due to the public's mainstream exposure to CSI-type shows, if the same trial were held today, a different verdict may have been reached.

*may not be true

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