We’ve spent a lot of time with the Juice in the first half of this season of American Crime Story — but for this episode, the writers largely ignore O.J. Simpson and concentrate on the rise of Johnnie Cochran. They also seem to delight in detailing the defense infighting that threatened to take down the “dream team.” (Poor Robert Shapiro, grunting and scoffing as he accuses his mentor F. Lee Bailey of leaking embarrassing information to the press.)
But an early scene of this week’s installment does an excellent job laying out both sides of the case as the prosecution and defense lawyers go into the trial — in particular, how the same evidence would be handled differently by each respective team. Both the series’ Rosetta stone — Jeffery Toobin’s The Run of His Life — and some supplementary material really bring the viewer back to 1995; now’s the time to see just how accurate the episode is, per our signature one-to-five-gloves scale.
1. The prosecution tried to have O.J.’s domestic violence record excluded from the trial
“Your honor,” John Travolta’s Shapiro tells the honorable Judge Lance Ito. “This is a murder case. This is not a domestic violence case, nor is it an inquiry into the personality of Mr. Simpson.” Watching this scene now, when we know that at least a third of all female homicide victims are killed by a male partner, this motion might seem ludicrous. And that’s just how the prosecution approached it: “Counsel’s reasoning is flawed and their logic is specious,” prosecutor William Hodgman informs the court, proposing an absurd hypothetical that they don’t even tell the jury that O.J. and Nicole had ever been married. While the lawyers who actually presented the points were different — Gerald Uelmen for the defense and Hank Goldberg for the prosecution — the arguments themselves were nearly identical.
A week after the hearing, Ito came back with a 10-page opinion that allowed the prosecution to use most of the incidents, though he did exclude a fearful call Nicole made to a women’s shelter a week before her murder, as well as the descriptions of her abuse she’d written in her diary. “Ito correctly excluded Nicole’s statement as inadmissible hearsay,” Toobin wrote. “As are all ‘statements by a homicide victim expressing fear of the defendant, even on the very day of the homicide.'” The jury wouldn’t hear, in her own words, just how much Nicole thought that O.J. might actually kill her. (4/5 Gloves)