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O.J. Simpson Criminal and Civil Trials – Compared & Contrasted

© Donald Reinhardt, September 11, 2012

There were two O.J. (Orenthal James) Simpson trials, one criminal and one civil, and O.J. won the criminal trial and was acquitted but he lost in the civil trial. Why were the two trial results different?

Criminal and Civil O.J. Simpson Trials – The Similarities and the Differences

There were different prosecutors, different lawyers and different results with these two different juries, but essentially there was the same evidence plus some additional important new evidence in the civil trial. In the criminal case, the O.J. trial was to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” to convict. Beyond a reasonable doubt is a higher bar to reach and attain. In the civil trial there had to be reasonable cause to convict and there was a conviction and a judgment without a jail sentence. However, in the civil trial it was possible to call O.J. Simpson as a witness and to question and cross examine his statements made to the police in Los Angeles. Further additional evidence with photographs of the Bruno Magli shoes size 12 was presented and as many as 30 photographs proved that he possessed and wore a pair of these shoes which he denied he ever owned or used. This bloody shoeprint was of a Bruno Magli shoe was found at the murder scene and in the Bronco carpeting.

The O.J. Simpson Case and the Common Evidence in Both the Criminal and Civil Trials

Here are some of the most important and indisputable facts in this case:

  • Simpson’s blood was found at the crime scene –the Bundy property of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson
  • Simpson’s black knit cap with some of his hair inside was at the Bundy murder scene
  • A bloody Bruno Magli shoeprint matching Simpson’s shoe and size 12 was at that crime scene and also in the Bronco car he drove
  • The murder timeline indicated the murders took place somewhere between 10:15 and 10:40 PM
  • A white bronco or jeep car was seen fleeing the Bundy residence in Brentwood
  • The white Bronco was seen again only a short distance removed from the murder scene when it almost crashed into a Ms. Shively’s car and she recognized and identified the driver as O.J. Simpson at about 10:55 PM
  • A white Bronco arrived at Rockingham residence of OJ Simpson and shortly thereafter a limousine driver saw an O.J. Simpson-like, 6 foot 2" figure enter the house from the back to the front and soon the lights went on.
  • The driver buzzed the residence again (he had been waiting for almost 20 minutes for Simpson) and Simpson said he had overslept was finished showering and would be right down to get driven to the airport
  • There was blood found in the Bronco and the blood was of three types: O.J. Simpson’s blood (related to a cut on his finger), Nicole Brown Simpson’s blood, his murdered wife, and Ron Goldman’s blood, the young man who was there to deliver reading glasses left behind at the Mezzaluna restaurant for a post-recital family dinner in honor of the Simpson’s daughter Sydney.
  • O.J. Simpson had no valid alibi or witness to prove where he was at the time of the murder

Chris Darden Prosecutor Claim – Simpson Murder Glove Tampering?

At a recent meeting Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors in the original Simpson criminal trial, proposed that the glove that did not fit easily onto O.J. Simpson’s hand, during an attempt to show that the glove was a fit, had been altered by the defense team during a brief period of their studying the glove. It was Darden who originally had encouraged the prosecution to have Simpson try the gloves on and during this period of demonstration by Simpson actually having great difficulty putting the glove on there was great drama that was observed by all– the judge, the jury, the defense team and the prosecutors and the world-wide television audience. These matching leather gloves each had blood on them, had been wetted and dried and were deemed to possibly have shrunk by one full size. Further, while the gloves were being put on OJ was wearing protective latex gloves and the latex inhibited a smooth transition into the leather gloves. Darden essentially damaged his own prosecution case as O.J. struggled, winced, fought and even smiled quizzically as he tried to slide and maneuver the gloves on. Finally, in a great act filled with drama he held the gloves up as a poor fit. Soon Johnnie Cochran, O.J.’s lead defense lawyer, was espousing the point, “if it does not fit, you must acquit.”  Alan Dershowitz, one of Simpson's Dream Team of lawyers, said the prosecution made major errors and lost the case as a result of the glove testing event and several other errors. Dershowitz noted under California law Simpson could have been made to test the glove in the absence of the jury and the results assessed outside the jury room. Unfortunately for the prosecution, this test did not happen outside the jury's view but was done right in front of the entire courtroom.
Chris Darden’s recent assertion of glove tampering probably is wrong because if he thought that tampering occurred that should have been presented at the time of the actual trial – it was not charged then and now 18 years it is irrelevant, even if it provides some interesting discussion, story or hypothesis.


Nevertheless, the O. J. Simpson criminal trial was all great theater and great defense and soon, the stronger evidence all around –the DNA, the blood, the footprints, the glove found at Bundy and the other blood and material evidence at O. J.’s Rockingham estate began to fade as charges of racism by the police investigators, planted evidence and poor specimen handling began to cast shadows here and there and everywhere amidst the prosecution’s case. And, when that criminal case jury, finally arrived at a verdict, it was a clear 12:0 decision for acquittal and a verdict of not guilty because the defense team had created reasonable doubt and confusion.


O.J. never took the stand in his criminal trial, but in the civil trial he had to and it was here that the plaintiffs' attorney Petrocelli grilled and riddled O.J.’s statements and showed how O.J.’s spousal abuse was real, his anger was often, he was lying time and time again and he had no alibi that was valid. And all the evidence that was in the shadows before at the criminal trial, now emerged brighter and clearer as shoe photos were matched to crime scene photos, DNA results were clearly linked and timelines were shown to coincide with witness who saw a white car resembling the Bronco at two different times.


O.J. Simpson Criminal and Civil Trial Conclusions


So, what are we to believe after everything is said and done about these trials? The evidence is the evidence and the evidence is strong that O.J. Simpson committed these murders. Because the criminal trial lasted almost 10 months and O.J. had a very strong and large defense team, the defense created sufficient doubt, confusion and personal attributions of racism to cause the criminal case to be thrown into the area where "beyond a reasonable doubt" could not work. Nevertheless, the Simpson civil trial of the plaintiffs – the Goldman and Brown families – clearly showed that O.J. Simpson lied consistently when on the stand, did not have an alibi and the overwhelming forensic evidence stood up well. In the civil trial guilt was established and a 33 million dollar judgment and claim was brought against Simpson. None of this money will ever be received by either family, but the conviction stands and will not be overturned.
Today, O.J. Simpson sits in jail on another series of charges in Nevada related to kidnapping and the use of deadly force in a robbery where Simpson said he was simply trying to retake his stolen and cherished personal memorabilia. His sentence is for 60 years.





Orenthal James Simpson, Nevada Prison Inmate. Photo Credit: Lovelock Nevada Prison