A Tale Of Two Verdicts

October 3, 1995

I was in the student lounge of my high school in D.C., where they’d dragged a bunch of TVs so we could all watch the O.J. verdict. They knew people would cut class to go find TVs elsewhere and watch it anyway, so the administrators just threw up their hands and let us watch.

The reaction to the “not guilty” verdict was mixed at my private, relatively white high school – I recall my own reaction being, “Well, they took that little time to deliberate after such a long trial, that’s pretty much the only verdict they could have come up with.” I was a very cynical 14 year old with a lawyer for a father.

There wasn’t any celebration as far as I remember, but there also wasn’t as much anger as I saw later on the news from a lot of people. The overriding reaction I recall from my schoolmates was a reinforcement of the idea that if you have enough money and good enough lawyers, you can always buy reasonable doubt. For once, it wasn’t about race. It was about money.

Some people (namely, those whose families had a LOT of money) were a little too reassured by that.

October 3, 2008

I’ve been neck-deep in work all week, so I’ve barely been able to keep up with the most basic aspects of the news. I remembered seeing something this morning about the case going to the jury, but then I got sucked into yet another giant fiasco involving internet not working in one critical area, and half my day was gone.

Then, about 10pm, I heard a crackle on the walkie, “Hey, they’re about to announce the verdict.” Confusion ensued, since there were a number of people who hadn’t even realized the trial was going on. And then, apparently from a guy with a wireless connection and a Slingbox: Guilty on all counts.

Before it was even up on any website. Most sites were still just getting breaking-news briefs that a verdict had even been reached up before it was announced. So the walkies scooped the internet. A truly bizarre chain of events.

Not as bizarre as the chain that landed O.J. back in the defendant’s chair, and now probably in jail for the rest of his life. But still, pretty damn odd.

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