The O. J. Simpson murder case (officially the People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson) was a criminal trial held at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in California. The trial spanned from the jury’s swearing-in on November 9, 1994, to opening statements on January 24, 1995, to a verdict on October 3, 1995. The former professional football star and actor O. J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder after the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and waiter Ronald Lyle Goldman, in June 1994. The case has been described as the most publicized criminal trial in American history. Simpson was acquitted after a trial that lasted more than eight months.
Simpson hired a high-profile defense team, initially led by Robert Shapiro and subsequently led by Johnnie Cochran, and which also included F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Gerald Uelmen, John Yahoe, and Carl E. Douglas, with two more attorneys specializing in DNA evidence: Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld. Los Angeles County believed it had a strong prosecution case, but Cochran was able to persuade the jurors that there was reasonable doubt about the DNA evidence (a relatively new form of evidence in trials at the time) – including that the blood-sample evidence had allegedly been mishandled by lab scientists and technicians – and about the circumstances surrounding other court exhibits. Cochran and the defense team also alleged other misconduct by the Los Angeles Police Department. Simpson’s celebrity and the lengthy televised trial riveted national attention on the so-called “trial of the century”. By the end of the criminal trial, national surveys showed dramatic differences in the assessment of Simpson’s guilt or innocence between black and white Americans.
Later, both the Brown and Goldman families sued Simpson for damages in a civil trial that came to a total of $33.5 million. On February 4, 1997, a jury unanimously found there was preponderance of the evidence to hold Simpson liable for damages in the wrongful death of Ron Goldman and battery of Brown. On February 21, 2008, a Los Angeles superior court approved plaintiffs’ renewal application on the civil court judgment against Simpson. (For a California civil judgment to remain enforceable the judgment holder must timely file a renewal application every 10 years from the date of entry of judgment or renewal date; there is no limit on the number of renewal applications a judgment holder may file.)