Spoiler alert – O.J.’s innocent!
In case you missed last nights finale of FX’s The People vs O.J. Simpson the popular mini series that has riveted both viewers who lived through the infamous double murder and those who only grew up hearing about it, then you already know…it was no cliff-hanger.
Even if you were too young to remember the circus like atmosphere that surrounded the trial of the century, you know the infamous verdict – that the jury will find the Juice not guilty of the grisly killing his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman.
This 10 part American Crime Story ripped straight from the headlines, made the headlines every day for over a year.
Today’s transfixed viewers had only to wait a mere ten weeks to witness this controversial verdict.
For followers of the actual trial it was a major commitment. The verdict that caused both joy and rage, came 16 months after the gruesome killings in June 1994. After slogging through 8 months of often tedious testimony that unfolded on TV for 8 hours every day, the verdict was reached with unbelievable speed.
In the late summer and fall of 1995 the O.J. trial took over my TV everyday.
Bedridden with a bad bout of Lyme Disease, I was able to join the millions who were glued to their TV’s watching the Trial of the Century.
There were no smart phones, no Facebook, Twitter, no streaming media. Cable TV was the only game in town. The gavel to gavel coverage could be seen on Court TV and CNN, the only 2 networks covering the case nationally. Fox News and MSNBC had not yet been launched.
The trial would become a daily melodrama and I knew all the players big and small on a first name basis as if characters in a favorite TV show.
In the evening I watched as the news media rehashed the days events in court, listening with earnest as CNN’s legal Greta Van Susteren, and Court TV’s Dan Abrams dissected the days story. Still not sated, I read with relish as the story was reported in the daily N.Y.newspapers.
It was the most dramatic courtroom verdict in history and after months of testimony and high drama, it came with breathtaking speed.
After 8 months of testimony O.J.’s fate was in the jury hand and for once the famous courtroom was all but empty with the cameras turned off.
To everyone’s surprise, Judge Ito announced on Monday October 2 that the jurors had reached a verdict but that it would not be announced until 1pm the next day.
The trail of the century turned into the cliffhanger of the century as the longest sequestered jury in U.S. history took a mere 3 hours and 40 minutes to render a verdict, shocking everyone.
Nerves were raw, the suspense palpable and the media had to fill the time as speculation was rampant.
Tuesday morning we awoke with bated breath as the verdict that millions had waited to hear for more than a year would be revealed that afternoon at 1pm N.Y. time.
TV turned on the juice…it was all O.J. all the time. Networks preempted afternoon programs to carry the verdict live; even sports channels planned live coverage of the reading of the verdict in the courtroom.
“Suddenly it was pronounced He’s Innocent ! In a stunning verdict the jury finds O.J. Simpson not guilty of murder in the savage slayings of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman,” the Post reported.
The amazing conclusion to the Trial of the Century, caused an audible gasp to fill the courtroom.
New York like every American city ground to a halt on Monday October 3 at 1:00.
From my apartment I could hear there was a palpable quiet to the streets. On busy avenues, in crowded bars, in living rooms and offices, work and play came to a nervous halt at 1:07 p.m. as TV’s and radios broadcast the stunning event. Even on the floor of the Stock Exchange, the N.Y. Post reported, trading was temporarily disrupted to listen to the verdict.
There was a collective gasp and then shock, surprise, relief, happiness and anger when the verdict was read. Some claimed “it’s a disgrace.”
In Harlem people shook hands with strangers and applauded. “The juice is loose,” one man was quoted in the Post. “It’s about time the system worked,” said another. Groups erupted in cheers, tears and hugs when the verdict was read.
The O.J. spectacle was black and white proof that America was a deeply divided nation on race and the trial and its controversial verdict brought that into the light.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.