The OJ Simpson Jury Trial
The OJ Simpson Jury Trial may be the most interesting modern jury trial that may have truly captured the minds and imagination of many people around the world, by lawyers and laymen alike. It was even hailed as the "Trial of the Century."
Most people thought that OJ Simpson should have been found guilty because of the apparent overwhelming pieces of evidence that were presented against him at his jury trial. To the dismay of many, specially the sympathizers of the victims, he was acquitted nonetheless on his criminal trial.
In my opinion, there must have been a mistake somewhere why the accused was acquitted. For most of us who are still embarking to sail in an "unfamiliar ocean", the adoption of the jury system, we have the natural tendency to blame the jury or jurors that decided the "People vs Simpson" case.
The question then is: "Why blame the jurors?" And the ready answer is: "Because the jurors know nothing about laws."
To find the correct answer to this question, we need to learn that there is such a thing called the Jury Instruction. This instruction is issued by the Presiding Judge to the jury or jurors in every jury trial which they are strictly required to follow.
The Jury Instruction, by the way, is a set of rules, law or laws, that are rewritten into the simplified language of the jurors. In our case in the Philippines for our proposed jury system law, not only shall the instruction be rewritten into the simplified sentences or phraseology but further translated contemporaneously by a professionally trained interpreter during the trial into the local dialect of the jurors so that even a 16-year old student with an average intelligence will understand the instruction.
Among those instruction are the following:
1. The proper law applicable to the case that the presiding judge will issue to the jury. The jurors are never required to research for the law that is applicable to the case at hand. They must only listen to the judge what the law is applicable to the case. Question: If there is an error of law on the part of the judge in instructing the jury, shall the jury or jurors be faulted or blamed for that error? Of course not. If they are not required to find what the law is for the case, shall the jurors be blamed for not making a research of the law? Of course not. It is not an error committed by the jury.
2. Believe it or not, the most difficult set of jury instruction for jurors to follow is: To sit AT ALL TIMES; To listen to the jury instruction AT ALL TIMES; To listen to the presentation of the evidence or to hear the testimony of witnesses AT ALL TIMES; And to refrain from talking (or to shut up) AT ALL TIMES.
While the trial is still going on, jurors are not allowed, in or outside the court room, to talk about the case even amongst themselves and absolutely to nobody else even to the Presiding Judge, or any lawyer whatsoever, or the President or a Police or Arm Forces General who may be his compadre or friend.
If a juror shall violate this instruction, he should not be surprised if one day he will be investigated based on the secret report of his own fellow juror and get indicted for obstruction of justice by a Grand Jury and may be convicted by a Trial Jury and serve time in jail from 3 to 5 years. So, it is easier to SHUT UP for the juror to do than serving time in jail for violating the jury instruction.
3. The jury is likewise instructed that the accused must be presumed innocent at all times until it can find the accused guilty as charge and only if they find evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Proof beyond reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof required in every criminal trial. The Wikipedia defines it as: "A 'legal burden' or a 'burden of persuasion' or an obligation that remains on the prosecution for the duration of the trial."
"Once the burden has been entirely discharged to the satisfaction of the trier of fact (or jury), the party, or prosecutor, carrying the burden will succeed in its case (against the accused)."
"For example, the presumption of innocence places a legal burden upon the prosecution to prove all elements of the offense (beyond a reasonable doubt) and to disprove all the defenses except for affirmative defenses in which the proof of nonexistence of all affirmative defense(s) is not constitutionally required of the prosecution."
4. The easiest and most interesting or enjoyable instruction from the judge is when the case is finally submitted to the jury for discussion (or deliberation) and issuance of the jury decision called the "Jury Verdict".
Along with the instruction in submitting the case for decision, the instruction further requires that the jurors must secretly write their verdict vote in the jury ballot so that no one among them shall know which way each other has voted "guilty" or "not guilty" in a criminal trial and that no one shall be pressured in making his decision.
The jury decision or verdict must be arrived at from the free will - and not on the ill will - of each juror. (NOTE: Secret jury voting is not a requirement under the American jury system and in other countries. It is uniquely proposed in the Philippine Jury Systems Law for additional protection of jurors against the vindictive nature of Filipinos. Maskin na pandol lamang na hindi sinadya ang kalinking ng kanyang pa-a, baril agad - Pak! Patay agad ang nakapandol! - and to encourage Filipino jurors to report for jury duty.)
There are also others that may mistakenly commit errors during the trial beside the presiding judge in issuing jury instruction. Errors can likewise be committed by the Prosecutor, or Defense Attorney, such as unknowingly in presenting a lying witness, a wrong piece of evidence, or even a closing wrong argument for their case. This is what may have happened in the "People vs OJ Simpson" jury trial.
Going back to the "People vs OJ Simpson" jury trial, trial experts or trial analysts found certain errors committed by the prosecution. One of those errors was as follows:
The DNA evidence presented by the Prosecutors. Every individual person has a unique marker which forensic scientists now briefly call the "DNA." A DNA contains genes that a person inherits from his parents.
Even if two persons have similar genes, such as between a parent and child, scientists say that only identical twins can have the exact same DNA. If they are not identical twins, even if they are twins, they cannot have the same exact DNA. A DNA serves as a unique identifier, similar to a fingerprint.
In the examination of the prints on Simpson's Bronco SUV, before the investigators were able to obtain "prints" from it, a Los Angeles Police Investigator testified that he saw photographs of press personnel who were leaning on OJS' Bronco thereby rendering the value of the DNA they have taken from the vehicle less reliable. This is just one of the many errors of the prosecution in presenting its evidence. To browse a complete dissertation of the OJS criminal and civil trials, the reader is invited to click on the web site below:
The OJ Simpson Trial
It may be pointed out, however, that although OJS was acquitted in his criminal jury trial, he was nonetheless found liable for civil damages in his civil jury trial for the death of his spouse, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He was required and ordered to pay several millions of dollars in damages to the surviving relatives of the victims as well as to his two children in their share on the estate of the deceased Nicole Brown Simpson.