OJ Simpson- blasted by the court of public opinion

OJ Simpson is back in court, this time to contest that the case that landed him in prison- an ill-advised attempt to reclaim some of his sports memorabilia property that he claimed was stolen from him- was botched by a lead lawyer that didn’t have his best interests in mind.

This lawyer, Yale Galanter, was apparently aware of the sting before it happened, and advised Simpson that he was within his right to approach the people.  This turned out to be very bad advice, as he was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery due to one of his friends bringing a gun along with them.

And while bad advice isn’t grounds for a mistrial, being a witness in a case that you’re defending is a conflict of interest that should have resulted in Galanter recusing himself from the case. More than that, however, it seems that Simpson is accusing Galanter of failing to properly defend him, by not reviewing evidence properly, by not telling Simpson about decisions and plea bargain opportunities, and by advising him not to testify in his own defense.

But while mistakes were certainly made in the case, it’s not obvious that different tactics would have resulted in a different verdict.  Due to the fall-out from Simpson’s earlier murder “trial of the century” it seems that the public was biased against Simpson.

Kendall Coffey discussed the case back in 2008 when it was being tried.  And as Coffey tells it in his book Spinning the Law: Trying Cases in the Court of Public Opinion, evidence exists to support the idea that the police and prosecutors were working very hard at putting Simpson in jail.

Kendall Coffey writes, “when police alleged that O.J. Simpson, along with gun-toting accomplices, stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room to confiscate allegedly stolen sports memorabilia, they brought serious charges against all the defendants, including robbery and kidnapping counts with possible sentences of life in prison.  Apparently, though, police were more interested in nailing O.J. than his less notorious co-defendants.  Three of the alleged accomplices received “deal-of-the-century” plea bargains to get them to testify.  O.J.’s co-defendants, even those who say they had guns, bargained their way to probation and community service.”

Simpson’s past arrest for murder was officially kept from the jurors in the case however, as Coffey writes, this “could have indeed mattered to the three adults in Nevada who did not already know.”  Indeed, the Simpson trial was one of the biggest televised trials in the history of media.  According to Spinning the Law, “reportedly the first question Russian President Boris Yeltsin asked US President Bill Clinton when he arrived for a summit was, ‘do you think OJ did it?'”

As Kendall Coffey puts it, “the conventional wisdom was that the dream team “out-lawyered” the prosecution, thus securing acquittal for an obviously guilty man.”  Obviously such a belief in the minds of the public can end up disastrously for those who, like O.J., end up back in a court of law.



O.J.’s own lawyer said he had never been in a case where every witness is made out to be a liar.




Boston Bombing Suspect to be Prosecuted Through the Civilian Process

Despite calls to treat the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an “enemy combatant,” the White House says Tsarnaev will be prosecuted through the civilian system of justice.

Republican Rep. Peter King of New York and GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire have urged President Obama to let the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect to be treated as an enemy combatant. GOP leaders believe it will give authorities a chance to question the suspect and gather intelligence instead of trying the suspect immediately in a criminal court.

Several Democrats disagree and say the move would be unconstitutional.
Former U.S. attorney and MSNBC legal analyst Kendall Coffey says he agrees with the White House’s decision. Kendall Coffey says you have to be part of an enemy force to be considered an enemy combatant. “I don’t think being part of a general hatred of the United States is nearly enough…If we start throwing the Constitution out, we’re going to lose the real war for our values.”

“The Obama administration is trying to demonstrate civilian tools are adequate and tough enough to make everybody safe,” Kendall Coffey stated, but that has included extending the public safety exception for Miranda rights.
The former U.S. Attorney explained that the administration is using this case to establish that “we don’t need to ship everyone down to Guantanamo.”
While liberals and constitutional scholars may not like it, Mr. Coffey said, “the administration may see it as something that’s needed to preserve civilian jury trials.”

Dzhokhar was charged on April 22 with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and with malicious destruction of property resulting in death.