Imprisoned at Last

He just couldn’t leave bad enough alone. Getting away with murder(s) was not enough. This time, the scene changed, and so did the key characters, except O.J. Johnny Cochran is gone to his maker. Judge Ito replaced by a low-visibility, no-nonsense judge. The glow is now gone from the younger, untouchable star.

The bizarre administration of justice finally worked its way. Nullification in Los Angeles was replaced by overreaction in Las Vegas. The man is finally there for all to see, shackled hand and foot, in prison-issue garb, whimpering before a judge, who was sipping her Slurpee while the prisoner begged for forgiveness.

His unlucky number was up. Thirteen years from the acquittal that stunned the world, five years since the acquittal in Florida for road rage, after a decade of sidestepping a civil judgment of $33.5 million for the Simpson-Goldman assaults, O.J. was sacked for thuggery, or as the judge labeled it, “arrogance and stupidity,” of all things.

“The potential for harm to occur in the room was tremendous,” the judge remarked about the hotel-room confrontation. Not even his lawyer complained: “It could have been a lot worse,” he admitted. In jail awaiting trial since last October, Simpson is likely to live out his life in a Nevada prison for an offense for which another first offender probably would have been given a light sentence, if not probation.

It is a strange ending to a stranger story. Reportedly, the conviction will be appealed because there were no blacks on the jury. Is Lewis Carroll writing the brief? Simpson wants that old Los Angeles jury? They should travel with him.

Everyone in the world knows that there was a connection between Simpson’s conviction this time and his acquittal on the murder charges. How could there not be? Well, not everyone in the world. The judge this time said she and this jury were not influenced by the 1995 Los Angeles trial. Yet, one juror said after this conviction that Simpson should have been convicted 13 years ago, though the juror’s eligibility questionnaire claimed no strong opinion about that earlier case.

Trial fans may be bemused by recent events. But all sports fans are familiar with the surprise ending. We all root for the underdog — this time, it was “Justice,” retribution, punishment for crime — and we cheer when it wins, or at least works.

I’ve heard it said that O. J. Simpson’s conviction is like Al Capone’s — the government couldn’t get him for his serious crimes, so they got him for tax fraud. But if the government went looking to get Capone, it was Simpson who went looking for trouble. The Nevada justice system delivered it. No one is weeping.


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