Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pulp Non-Fiction

If you have ever happened by this space at any time prior to today, then you know that I am not in the  "Hey, you should read/watch/listen to!" this type of fellow.  Something that is important to me is important to me irrespective of whether it is to anyone else.   I expect - and hope - that such is the case with the rest of the world.  

I had expected to not enjoy the FX mini-series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.  I have actually enjoyed it very much.  Almost two decades ago I bought Jeffrey Toobin's book "The Run Of His Life:  The People vs. O.J. Simpson".  It was - I thought - an exceptionally well-written book. Toobin had incredible access throughout the trial and that access coupled with his background as a prosecutor and his ability to write resulted in a book that was as informative as it was frustrating.  

In mid-June, 1994, O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife and a young man who apparently had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The killings occurred shortly after I graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law with my J.D. Perhaps one of the reasons that I was fascinated by the Simpson case - and remain interested in it two-plus decades later - is that the events of the case unfolded just as I was embarking on my own career in the law.

I was at the Gateway Hilton in Newark taking a Bar Prep Course the night of the "Bronco Chase" in June, 1994.  Two friends of mine and I went into the hotel's bar during a break in the Course in the hope of getting the score from the Knicks/Rockets NBA Finals Game.  When we entered the bar, the car chase was on the TV.  It was only when the game did not return after a minute or two that we realized what we were watching was not TV commercial for the Ford Bronco but was, instead, a live news event.  I had really just begun practicing law full-time in late September, 1994 (to the extent that I could while awaiting results of the Bar Exam), which is when jury selection began in Simpson's criminal case.  I was in Tumulty's Pub in New Brunswick - coincidentally waiting for a jury to come back - in early October, 1995 - when the jury's verdict in the Simpson case was published in Judge Ito's courtroom.  

The jurors reached their verdict after less than two hours of deliberation.  Two hours.  A cautionary tale perhaps on the perils of sequestration? The jurors in the Simpson case - including the alternates - were sequestered for the duration of the trial.  When Judge Ito introduced himself to them at the commencement of jury selection in September, 1994, he cautioned them that he expected the trial to last for quite a long time...until February, 1995.  His Honor proved to only be off in his estimate by eight months.    

The FX show has been very well done.  I have enjoyed it so much that I actually bought another copy of Toobin's book - and read it again last week.  I would recommend either to anyone.  Time well spent. 


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