The OJ Simpson Trial and Race

When we recently read the Johnson et. al article, the main thing I kept thinking about was the OJ Simpson trial. As many of us known, OJ Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and one of her male friends in 1994. There were many factors that made this trial of the most well known and controversial. One one side there was compelling evidence against him including, OJ’s past domestic violence issues with his ex-wife, DNA evidence , accounts told by OJ’s friend Kato Kaelin, and the infamous white Bronco car chase. But there were still issues that raised questions such as no found murder weapon, the lack of finger print evidence and first hand eye witness of the murder, and of course the famous glove that did not fit OJ’s hand. The final verdict ultimately found OJ as not guilty.

In the Johnson article, we learned that when participants were given information and then told that it was inadmissible in court, these participants gave blacks a harsher verdict score than they did for whites. But, participants who were not given additional information about evidence in the control condition rated the verdicts for blacks and whites to be equally strict. Throughout the trial there seemed to be a racial component. And during the trial the public’s opinions were also split down the middle, and many claim these differences to be due to race. These differences can be due to the fact that a black man (OJ) allegedly killed his ex-wife and friend who were both white. These differences in opinions may also be because many do not trust the criminal justice system due to institutional racism and unfair sentencing issues. How did race play a role in this trial? Is it possible that despite the very compelling evidence against OJ, he was found not guilty due to aversive racism or colorblind ideology? Would the outcomes of this trial be different if either OJ was white or the victims were black?

4 thoughts on “The OJ Simpson Trial and Race

  1. I wish I remembered the O.J. Simpson trial but I honestly don’t. After reading this article I want to sit in on jury duty to see how the jury makes their decisions about a person depending on their race. I guess you can never know exactly what a juror is thinking, however discussing the evidence with them might give some interesting insight as to how they are coming to their verdict and if race has anything to do with it.

  2. Very interesting question it makes me think about how many other cases are dealt this way that we are not aware of.

  3. The media played a major role in this trial and the coverage of this trial. The major example of how the media represented race in relation to this trial is a cover story that TIME magazine presented. The magazine took an old mug shot picture of OJ and darkened it to make it look more sinister and “scary.” Interestingly, Newsweek had a cover with the original version of the picture.

  4. This is really interesting. Something I kept thinking was how did the media play a role in this? How did the media show the races in different ways?

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