Twenty years have passed since Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman were brutally murdered in Brentwood, CA and what would be known as “the Trial of the Century” began. Today, it remains a hallmark case that is discussed and analyzed across many disciplines of study.
In 1994, I was living in Simi Valley, California. I remember when the verdict was read and how the public’s reaction was racially and divisively split. Unlike most of my peers and colleagues I was not surprised. A relatively short time had passed since the 1992 Los Angeles riots began, sparked from what most of us considered an unjust verdict for four LAPD officers responsible for the brutal beating of Rodney King. The video footage was played by the media every day for months. It seemed obvious and indisputable as to what happened. However frame by frame the “experts” argued whether “excessive force” was used, and somehow the jury did not bring down fair punishment. As a result of the riots 53 people were killed, thousands injured and over a billion dollars of destroyed property left South Central Los Angeles in ruins.
Twenty years later, I am hopeful we are seeing the tides turn in favor of fairness and justice. My hope is based upon the much needed attention given to the recent exonerees who were wrongfully convicted during the 80’s and 90’s. It is exhausting, gut-wrenching work that we as investigators, attorneys and organizations like Investigating Innocence take on. Each time a person is exonerated, it proves what many communities have been screaming for decades. Where is our fairness and justice?
Those who are proving their innocence, after being wrongfully convicted, are the direct result of decades of corruption that has already eroded the public’s trust across the county.
By the time the Simpson-Goldman case became a national obsession, our client Jonathan Fleming was already into his fifth year of a 25-life sentence for a homicide he did not commit in 1989. While he is an exceptionally forgiving man, his case clearly illustrates why the reactions to the Rodney King case and the OJ Simpson case were so emotionally charged. The first message was clear; the world’s “greatest legal system” is rigged. However, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Hence, the celebratory reaction to Simpson’s acquittal was equally clear.
Why are we so captivated by high-profile cases? Simply because we do not want to see the wrong person incarcerated while the guilty go free. We want to believe we are operating under a fair and balanced set of processes that do not make such egregious “mistakes.” When the “mistakes” appear to be, or are proven to be deliberate, we are outraged.
The widely covered high profile case, especially one with a lot of drama, can serve as an educational tool for the public to raise important questions. The public, of course, is our future jury pools that will serve to hopefully see through and question when prosecutorial misconduct presents itself.
Our justice system can only be a great system if both sides play by the rules that society as a whole agreed to follow. I try to convince myself the damage is caused by a small percentage of prosecutors, police officers, and judges that rig the system. At the same time, that belief becomes weak when, for example; if you take one prosecutor systematically hiding Brady Material over the span of a 30 year career, how many cases would therefore be flawed?
If we are indeed experiencing the beginning of a new era, my hope is that the divisive reaction is shifting away from race, as seen in the trials of O.J. Simpson and Rodney King, and towards shutting down the corruption where it belongs. Those who have corrupted our system have long used distractors of the “us versus them” mentality for their end-game to divide and conquer.
Management Resources Ltd of New York is a professional investigative firm licensed in New York and New Jersey. . Management Resources is a member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Associated Licensed Detectives of New York, and Founding Members and Regional Directors of Investigating Innocence.
Bob Rahn and Kim Anklin are available for interviews or speaking engagements. Contact ImaginePublicity at 843-808-08509 or email firstname.lastname@example.org