Twenty years have passed since opening arguments were made during the O.J. Simpson murder trial. It was one of the most publicized trials in American history, spanning nine months, 1,100 exhibits, 45,000 pages of documents, and 120 witnesses. Simpson, a former professional football player for the San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, and actor, was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. We all remember the White Bronco chase, and the late Johnnie Cochran's timeless "if doesn’t fit, you must acquit” quote. The police officer who found the bloody glove was placed on the hot seat. Then-Detective Mark Fuhrman plead the Fifth after the Simpson’s defense team tried to portray him as a racist. It all ended with the verdict that reverberated across the country: not guilty.
At the time, the racial divide on the verdict was stunning. The vast majority of whites thought the former all-American, All-pro running back was guilty. The black community thought otherwise. Now, 20 years after the trial began, both sides can agree: O.J. totally did it. Yet, as the Washington Post’s Janell Ross added that while there still are significantly more whites than blacks who think O.J. murdered Brown and Goldman, there’s a now a majority on both sides:
Now to be clear, 20 years after the jury announced its June 1995 not-guilty verdict in Simpson's criminal trial, white and black opinion on this matter remains pretty divided. A full 83 percent of white Americans said that they are "definitely" or "probably" sure of Simpson's guilt. By contrast, 57 percent of black Americans agreed.
But what's noteworthy here is that both figures have reached an all-time high and are moving in the same direction, despite two successive summers in which questions of possible police misconduct and systemic racial disparities in the criminal justice system — issues very real in the Simpson case — have occupied the headlines.
The case also generated some comedic gold, like this cold opening from Saturday Night Live. Tim Meadows played Simpson.
Yet, it wasn’t over yet. Simpson was sued by the Brown and Goldman families and ordered to pay millions in restitution for being liable in their deaths. Simpson had refused to testify in his criminal trial, which legal analyst Dan Abrams said is his right, but that isn’t the case in a civil suit.
In 2008, O.J. Simpson is currently serving a 33-year long prison sentence after being convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping. He had tried to take some of his sports memorabilia back from a dealer in a Nevada hotel room in 2007. He was recently denied a new trial over the charges.