Our Constitution is exceptional because the rule of law usurps the rule of man, even when it comes to a murderer like O.J. Simpson.
Unless you’re blinded by skin color, you know O.J. Simpson is a murderer. O.J. was found “not guilty” by a jury of his peers in the double-murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her alleged boyfriend at the time, Ron Goldman, on June 12, 1994. Many attribute Simpson’s acquittal in that trial to a few things: his fame as a former star NFL running back and Hall of Famer, his success as movie actor and television pitchman, and due to the racial tension that existed in Los Angeles in the early ’90s after the brutal beating of Rodney King by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991. The beating was caught on film and played for the entire world to see.
Frankly, some of the black jurors in O.J.’s murder trial wanted revenge for what they believed to be a corrupt and racist LAPD. Simpson was the benefactor of that outrage; the jury let him go. Many in the black community were ecstatic and celebrated in the streets of Los Angeles. The rest of America stood in absolute shock: A killer had gone free.
Fast forward to 2008. That’s when Mr. Simpson was convicted of robbery and kidnapping after he and several accomplices entered into a hotel room of two sports collectors to retrieve personal mementos and sports memorabilia he claimed were stolen from him after his murder trial acquittal in 1995. As a result of that confrontation, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years confinement in the Nevada state prison system.
Last Thursday a Nevada parole board granted Simpson parole after serving nine years. It was the right call, even if you believe he should rot in prison for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
Admittedly, I was taken aback by the reaction of callers on local and national radio shows voicing their outrage over Simpson’s release that could come as soon as Oct 1. It’s been 23 years since Ron and Nicole were murdered, and the visceral reaction toward O.J. hasn’t changed at all. The outrage was so palpable among callers you’d think “The Trial of the Century” occurred last week.
I can’t imagine the grief the Brown and Goldman family had to endure 23 years ago, or last week for that matter. Therefore, I can understand their outrage – though for the sake of their own health, I hope they’re able to find some level of peace to move forward. However, for the rest of us, there’s something disconcerting about a society that still wants their pound of flesh after a man has already gone through our justice system, whether you believe the verdict was just or not.
I’m of the opinion that O.J. Simpson was wrongly freed after his 1995 murder trial. I also believe the 33-year Nevada prison sentence was revenge for Simpson’s acquittal in that trial. Needless to say, though Simpson was deserving of some form of punishment for his robbery conviction, as a nation of laws, we must differentiate between the trial that took place in Nevada and his murder trial that occurred over a decade prior – one had nothing to do with the other. I don’t want to live in a society that’s guided by human emotions. Neither did our Founding Fathers! That is why our Constitution is so brilliant!
In their adaptation of the Fifth Amendment, our founders wrote:
“… nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb. …”
In other words, they didn’t believe double jeopardy should exist in our justice system, and if you subscribe to our Constitution and the rule of law, neither should you.