I was 13 when the O.J. Simpson trial verdict was announced. It’s my only clear memory of the trial: my math teacher halting class so we could watch the verdict. My parents were purposely avoiding the case, so I knew very little about it (I don’t know how they did it, as much as this case saturated the media). When the jury declared him not guilty, I didn’t think much of it. Guilty, not guilty–I was too young to have ever seen Simpson play football, so the one and only thing I knew him from was The Naked Gun. When he was declared liable in the civil case, I assumed that he had probably done it, but that there wasn’t enough physical evidence to convict him in the criminal trial. It wasn’t until “the morally corrupt” Faye Resnick (tm Camille Grammer) appeared on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that I began to realize there was a lot more to the story than a straightforward murder and court case.
Jeffrey Toobin states upfront that he believes OJ is guilty, but he’s certainly not biased toward the prosecution. As a journalist who witnessed the trial firsthand, he’s critical and at times downright scathing toward every party involved. He clearly despised Johnnie Cochran and finds Robert Shapiro ridiculous, but at the same time he thought Chris Darden was a terrible lawyer and Marcia Clark, incredibly arrogant. Obviously he’s not a fan of Simpson, but he also doesn’t seem to care for Judge Ito, and BOY does he hate F. Lee Bailey. He makes fun of Kate Kaelin and naturally has nothing good to say about Mark Fuhrmann (although he does reject the notion that Fuhrmann or anyone in the LAPD planted evidence). The trial is a farce, with an exhausted, bored jury, a judge who can’t control his own courtroom, and lawyers constantly sniping at each other. It’s a grim scene.
Toobin does a great job of setting the case in its historical context. I found this useful since I’m young enough to have no memory of the riots or Rodney King. I came away from this book believing that Simpson was guilty, but that a combination of his celebrity and LAPD’s previous misdeeds got him off the hook. There are so many players in this case, and so much going on, but I never felt confused while reading. The Run of His Life takes an incredibly complex case and makes it straightforward and easy for a non-lawyer to understand.