The SFA and O.J. Simpson— Never the Twain shall meet!

11 Jun

Good Morning.

I wonder how often we have heard the phrase “Public Perception”? And just who decides exactly what public perception or public opinion actually is?

Perhaps it is a collective of journalists? Maybe it is a group of Editors?

Or perhaps it is whatever collective noun applies to those people who wish to manipulate the news from behind the scenes while they live in anonymity and in the shadows—often as not trying to represent the interests of their masters—whoever they may be?

If we were to go back in time to precisely 19 years to this very day, and ask the question “Who is Orenthal James Simpson?” the answer supplied by most who knew of him would have been virtually identical— certainly in the United States of America.

Most would have told you that Simpson was simply the greatest running back in the history of American Football—setting stats and records over a 14 game season that will never be beaten—American football has since changed to a 16 game season. His muscular running and O.J. initials earned him the nickname “The Juice” and he went on to have a successful movie and media career that guaranteed him an annual seven figure salary. He was the all American good looking handsome sports hero.

His perception in the public eye was virtually the same across all states, all races, all social divides. O.J. was king!

Or so it appeared.

However, all of that began to unravel nineteen years ago tomorrow — on 12th June 1994 with the murder of his ex wife Nicole Brown Simpson and a young man who had gone to her house to return her spectacles from the restaurant where he worked as a waiter. His name was Ron Goldman.

This is not the place to examine in detail the evidence and tactics at the subsequent infamous trial, fascinating though it may be. What is worthy of note on these pages however, is the effect of the various “leaks” that were manufactured and how these may have affected public perception to this very day.

The first so called leak was the rumour put out by the Los Angeles Police department that following the murders a Ski mask had been found in the grounds of the dead woman’s house. By this time, Simpson had been arrested after a bizarre slow motion car chase where he was known to be in the back of his own car ( driven by a friend at the time ) holding a gun to his own head.

Whatever he was—Simpson was clearly troubled.

Anyway, the discovery of the Ski Mask lead to great speculation in the press that the deaths were premeditated murder and with Simpson in custody the tide of public opinion—at least as far as the press were concerned— turned steadily against him.

It was only months later, in the course of preliminary court proceedings, that the District Attorney looked the presiding judge in the eye and confirmed that there was no ski mask at all—never had been— and in a flash apologised for (ahem) anyone being misled as a result of this unfortunate and untrustworthy leak.

Next, was the public release of a taped telephone call where a clearly distraught Mrs Simpson was heard calling the police saying she was afraid of her husband! In the background, a raging, bullying, angry, violent, abusive and scary Simpson could be heard shouting, bawling, swearing and threatening his wife. The tape was released by the police to the press – without any judicial authority— together with details of a previous and uncontested conviction against Simpson which showed that he was a convicted wife beater. Further, the Police released details of several calls that they had made to the house as a result of complaints of domestic abuse and violence.

Simpson’s reputation as the All American good guy athlete was sunk—without trace — and with virtually no hope of redemption.

While this time the content of the leak was accurate—once again the District Attorney’s office had to square up to the situation and issued a heartfelt and sincere apology as the leaks prejudiced the function of, and lead to the dismissal of, a grand jury who were meant to assess if there was enough evidence to take Simpson to trial for the murder of his ex wife and Ron Goldman.

By the time the trial eventually started in the Los Angeles Court House, both prosecution and defence had spent millions of dollars and several months vetting and picking a jury of 12 men and women and a further 12 reserves. Experts for both prosecution and defence were charged with the task of assessing the jurors and getting rid of anyone who they thought would not suit their purpose or interest.

Potential jurors had to start with answering a questionnaire containing 75 separate questions and if you made it through that test then the answers to a further 30 questions awaited scrutiny and assessment. Thereafter you were questioned face to face, looked in the eye, and if you passed muster for both sides you were on the jury or a reserve.

As part of the research and preparation for jury selection, polls were taken among the general public. These showed a worrying trend in that over 70% of the black populace thought that Simpson was innocent, while almost the same percentage of White citizens thought Simpson was guilty.

Race was clearly going to be an issue.

Remember this was Los Angeles – a city with a history of racist policing and where there is a significant black population unlike Santa Monica where the murders were in fact committed.

The race issue became even clearer when the prosecution sought to rely on the testimony of Detective Mark Fuhrman, the policeman who found a blood stained glove and sock in or around the Simpson home. Allegedly the blood and the glove would match blood samples and an identical glove found at the scene of the crime, and thus would link Simpson to the murders. The problem was that it took over 2 months after Simpsons arrest for Fuhrman to reveal the significance of the items he found, and Fuhrman admitted that they were discovered irregularly—when he climbed over a wall and entered the premises to look for evidence with no search warrant or permission from anyone in authority.

Some of the blood was said to be Simpsons blood which had presumably been spilled as a result of an injury sustained by him in the course of a vicious fight at the scene of the crime.

However Simpson was able to show that within hours of the murders he had been at a photo shoot in Chicago where he had been photographed from head to toe with no sign of bruising, cuts, abrasions or any other kind of mark on his body which would suggest that he had been bleeding a little let alone profusely.

Simpson, by this time, was spending fortunes on defence lawyers with the legal bill running to $38,000 per day!

One of his star laden team, F Lee Bailey, would allege that Fuhrman was a racist and suggested quite clearly that he had planted the glove and the sock which he had deliberately smeared with blood in an attempt to frame the innocent Simpson. In some stringent cross examination, Fuhrman stood before the jury and specifically and vehemently denied that he was a racist, used the word “Nigger” or had any agenda that was anti-black. He denied that he had tried to fabricate evidence or frame the accused. He was forceful and bullish in his testimony. He looked the jury straight in the eye and said that the defence allegations were nonsense.

The defence then produced four witnesses to establish that Fuhrman had recently used the word “nigger” several times in general conversation, as well as an audiotape contradicting his testimony.These tapes became known as the Fuhrman tapes and would become infamous. This testimony eventually resulted in Fuhrman being charged with and convicted of perjury— charges he never even attempted to contest.

In one 1985 recording, Fuhrman gave a taped interview to Laura Hart McKinny, a writer working on a screenplay about female police officers. In the course of the conversation, he used the word “Nigger” some 42 times. In another interview, he talked about gang members and was quoted as saying, “Yeah we work with niggers and gangs. You can take one of these niggers, drag ’em into the alley and beat the shit out of them and kick them. You can see them twitch. It really relieves your tension.” He went on to say “we had them begging that they’d never be gang members again, begging us.” He said that he would tell them, “You do what you’re told, understand, nigger?”

In short, the detective who was one of the mainstays of the prosecution case, was shown to be an out and out racist of the worst kind, who openly boasted on tape of using his position and authority to further his prejudices and who acted in breach of the laws of the State of California—who had, of course, called him as a material witness.

It is said that Fuhrman’s testimony and his lack of credibility was instrumental in the jury of 10 black people, two white people and two Latino citizens taking less than an hour to acquit O.J. of the murders.

Another factor would have been the guile of another of Simpson’s dream team of lawyers. The late Johnny Cochrane – a small black bespectacled and moustachioed dapper Dan of a lawyer— goaded the prosecution into having Simpson try on one of the by now famous gloves recovered by Fuhrman. He then, in his closing speech—a masterly demonstration of how to speak to a jury—repeatedly insisted that “If the glove don’t fit, then you must acquit” – as it had been seen by one and all that the glove supposedly found by Fuhrman clearly did not fit Simpson’s hands and by implication could not therefore be Simpsons or as significant as the liar Fuhrman would have everyone believe.

Later, it would be revealed that the very first jury vote produced a result in favour of acquittal by a vote of ten to two. After examining some further evidence concerning the testimony of Simpsons chauffeur, the result was unanimous within the hour—much to the surprise of the media commentators.

After months and months of testimony and legal chicanery by both sides, it took less than an hour for the twelve jurors to announce they had reached a verdict.

He was unanimously not guilty!

Simpson—who had also looked the jury in the eye and stated that he was 100% not guilty at the start of the proceedings —— was free to go—but was virtually bankrupt as a result of the trial.

The decision was greeted with mass rejoicing among the black population as it had been widely feared that a conviction would result in riots similar to the events which unfolded after the Rodney King fiasco a few years earlier.

However, further polls suggested that even after unheard of 24 hour TV coverage and detailed in depth TV and press analysis, the common perception amongst the public remained the same. 70% of the black populace thought Simpson not guilty, while exactly the same proportion of whites felt him guilty.

Less than two years later Simpson would be found liable in a civil trial held in the courthouse in the predominantly white Santa Monica. The all white jury, despite hearing much of the same evidence but less invective, determined that Simpson was liable for the unlawful killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

The judge, by coincidence the second Japanese American to preside over a Simpson trial, had refused to allow Simpson’s defence team to take the same supposedly “scattergun” approach to the race related behaviour of the Los Angeles police force and so narrowed the issues down somewhat in comparison to the criminal trial—and of course the case this time need only be proven on the balance of probabilities as opposed to beyond all reasonable doubt.

Whilst the verdict from the jury was not totally unexpected, the level of compensation awarded—some $33Million dollars—- was. The sum was far higher than any of the commentators had been expecting, and seemed to ignore all prior precedent. Yet it was later upheld by the appeal court as not being an unreasonable award nor an award that had been reached by an unreasonable process.

Simpson was never going to pay that sum of course as he had no means of paying such a sum, and had in the interim moved to the state of Florida where the state law prohibits the sale of a person’s home to satisfy their debts.

After his acquittal in the criminal trial, O.J. had vowed to find the real killers and do all he could to see justice was done. By moving to Florida the public perception amongst some was that Simpson was trying to avoid the civil judgement and so escape his civil liabilities.

Once again, polls showed that 70% of blacks thought Simpson innocent, while 70% of Whites felt he was guilty.

One of the jurors in the original trial pointed out at this time that sitting on a jury awarding damages against a millionaire was a very different thing to reaching a decision which may send a man to the electric chair. Further, the same juror pointed out that the jury in the criminal case acknowledged that Simpson had been a wife beater, had committed assault and so on—but that was not the charges that the original jury had to decide upon— murder was murder and the evidence far from convinced them that the District Attorney’s office had proven any case of murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

Notwithstanding all of that, 13 years to the day after being acquitted of murder, O.J. Simpson was sent to jail having been found guilty of various offences relating to kidnap, threatening behaviour, and extortion and so on in a Nevada court house.

The offences all related to Simpson’s attempt to recover items which were admittedly stolen from him by supposed sporting memorabilia agents and collectors. Alas he had broken or barged into their hotel room with some others to collect the items by force, and it was alleged that some of his colleagues ( but not Simpson ) had begun to waive a pistol about and would not let the occupants out of the room unless the items were handed over at once.

Once again, an all-white jury found Simpson guilty. Most of his accomplices, who plea bargained and testified against him, were either sentenced to probation, given immunity, or relatively slight sentences despite some of them having previous convictions. Only two people were imprisoned. One of the accomplices received a sentence of six and ahalf years meaning he would serve roughly two.

In contrast, Simpson – for some reson—- was sentenced to a period of imprisonment of 33 years with an instruction that he should not be eligible for parole for a period of nine years at least, making his earliest date for parole 5th December 2017.

It is hard not to conclude that Simpson may well have been convicted and sentenced for a crime that was not under consideration in Nevada, and instead was sentenced to a term that was more in line with the feelings of the Court of Public opinion—in relation to another matter altogether!

Interestingly, as a postscript one of his co-accused sold a tape recording of discussions with Simpson leading up to the hotel caper, and the entire six and half minute incident that took place in the hotel bedroom to a media outlet. In return the co- accused received a nice six figure sum. The recording revealed some shouting and swearing, threats and bluster—but no one was shot or injured.

So—there we have the tale of The Juice—The formerly great O.J. who now seems condemned in certain respects by a court of law and in the eyes of the court of public opinion.

Now, you may ask just what is the reason for telling this tale on this particular day?

Well—O.J. Looked a jury in the eye and swore he was not guilty.

Mark Fuhrman looked a jury in the eye and swore he was not a racist.

The District Attorney looked the court in the eye and apologised for injudicious leaks from the L.A. police department.

The defence and prosecution lawyers looked potential jurors in the eye and got rid of them if they felt they did not suit their purpose.

In short looking at someone formally in the eye and stating a supposed truth is a measure of nothing!

Equally, the Simpson tale is one that is littered with taped recordings and other evidence which more than suggests that key people in the Simpson saga were simply lying through their teeth to feather their own purposes, and had such a lack of trust in the other people involved that they simply taped various steps and meetings for posterity or self-protection, and that as often as not a tape recording will blow away an attempt to cover up or hide the truth.

So what? You may say.

Well:

Apparently, Campbell Ogilvie looked Stewart Regan in the eye and swore that he had no prior knowledge of contractual EBT’s or the failure to properly register players with the governing body of Scottish Football or of any conflict of interest which would prevent him serving as President of the SFA—despite being an EBT recipient and a director of a company for many years which ran large and small tax avoidance schemes which – in part at least—have been admitted as unlawful.

Stewart Regan looked the camera in the eye and assured everyone with an interest in Scottish Football that Campbell Ogilvie was bona fides, that he had nothing to answer for and had been open and transparent.

Further, Regan said that if Ogilvie was subsequently found to have something to answer for then he would face that situation when it arose.

Regan, it would appear, has also gone into print saying that Rangers PLC were entitled to a European Football Licence despite the fact that Rangers PLC had outstanding and unpaid tax bills at the relevant time—contrary to the rules of UEFA.

Craig Whyte looked Tom English in the eye and denied that he was lying in relation to misuse of funds belong to Rangers PLC and the payment of debts to HMRC.

He was equally adamant that he had not used Ticketus money to clear the debt due by Rangers PLC to Lloyds bank.

Charles Green looked the world in the eye and said many things in relation to Rangers ( Newco ), Sevco 5088 Ltd, and various other dealings and transactions—none of which seem to have come to fruition. He further openly admitted to looking Craig Whyte in the eye and lying to him about his position in any new Rangers and in explanation he says quite clearly that he duped Whyte from day one!

Green has also said that he received a bounced cheque from Whyte and his colleagues, yet digital evidence has now appeared which shows that Mr Green’s account of matters is far from the truth. Contrary to what Green has said there is no evidence that he tried to return Whyte’s money.

Quite separate to these items, it would appear that the testimony of Mr Sandy Bryson in certain football related matters requires a considerable stretch of the legal imagination to be accepted or acceptable. Notwithstanding, the solicitors for the SPL and indeed Lord Nimmo-Smith made the stretch concerned without too much difficulty—leaving a dirty taste in the mouth of some as they did so.

Leaving the affairs of Rangers specifically behind for the moment, the entire licensing set up within Scottish Football relies on a self-certification base platform whereby club officials simply state that they are compliant and send along documentation which purportedly supports that contention.

Yet, despite this process, we see several clubs go to the wall and we find that on greater inspection there have been more than a few individuals in the game who have been less than frank in their disclosures with the result that teams and most importantly supporters suffer. Regrettably, it would appear that by the time the blazered gentlemen at the SFA twig to the fact that they have perhaps not benefitted from as full disclosure as they might like, the culprits have been exposed elsewhere and have legally flown the coup.

I don’t believe that the activities of Gavin Masterton, Vladimir Romanov, Sir David Murray, Craig Whyte, Charles Green and others have been sufficiently open and transparent to render them fit to play a part in Scottish Football.

The transparency and clarity of action needed in senior positions within the game extends to those such as Mr Ogilvie and Mr Regan—and again in my opinion – for different reasons – they are found wanting!

The current position—especially as revealed by the infamous Charlotte leaks— shows a system that is open to manipulation behind the scenes and in the press, and a system which is governed by personnel who appear to be willing to consider and implement such manipulation if it suits their purpose.

Neither system of Governance nor the people who govern should be allowed to remain.

Of course there are those who maintain that Charlotte the Harlot is no more than a sophisticated spin doctor for Craig Whyte, while others maintain that the information provided is genuine with Craig absolutely unable to prevent its release should he want to.

Either way, the information reveals fissures in the procedures and in the actings of those at the top of Scottish football. The leaks cannot be dismissed without the need for some further questions being asked by those who read them—and when questions are asked any reply that simply ducks the issue or smacks of pleading the fifth amendment sounds and smells in the same way as Mark Fuhrman did when he refused to answer further questions from O.J. Simpson’s lawyers on the grounds that he might incriminate himself.

A fortnight ago, O.J. Simpson—now a bloated, fat and unfit looking 65 year old resident and inmate of The Lovelock Correctional Center— sought to overturn his conviction and gain a retrial on the grounds that he was given bum legal advice and that his attorneys handled the Nevada trial badly.

His motion is under consideration, but I doubt it will get him too far.

Whether he succeeds in court or not, he will still be seen as a murderer who got away with it  by many despite the verdict in another court—the court of public opinion tends to ignore the legalities when it suits and instead convicts on reputation or character. The Juice is now the man who got away with murder—his football career forgotten.

By contrast, Fuhrman was dismissed by the police after his conviction, but was snapped up by the media hosting talk shows and writing books on unsolved crimes and so on. While Simpson is in jail and bankrupt having been acquitted of murder, Fuhrman was convicted of perjury, is a disgraced cop and apparently a millionaire as a result— although all accept that he is a disreputable character and was a racist bully!

Where stands the character and the reputation of those who govern Scottish Football as a result of the Charlotte leaks and other factors that are now known and publicly accepted?

Where stands the character of those earnest and blazered men of the SFA who looked us in the eyes and assured us of bona fides and absolute propriety—just like Detective Fuhrman did with a Los Angeles jury only to be exposed by a tape recording or two?

Well, I would encourage everyone to heed the words of a man of letters namely Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

Many will know Samuel by his “pen” name of Mr Mark Twain.

Twain made a lot of money with his writings and lectures—and promptly lost his fortune and that of his heiress wife when he invested heavily in the wrong things. Ultimately, he filed for his own bankruptcy and sought protection from his creditors.

However, Samuel— or Mark if you prefer—- knew the value of character and the truth of how people were judged in society whether that be right or wrong.

He undertook an arduous lecture tour which literally took him all around the globe, and as a result of this he raised enough money to pay all of his creditors in full—even although he was not legally obliged to do so.

The law was one thing—character is another.

For me Mark Twain summed up many a forceful witness and shady official—football or otherwise— with a comment he made following one of his tours of the American mid-west.

He concluded and advised “ That you should never play cards with a man called Doc, and never trust a man who always looks you square down in the eye!”

Remember that after the events at the Hampden press conference today.

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Responses to “The SFA and O.J. Simpson— Never the Twain shall meet!”

  1. BMCUWP June 11, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    BRT&H

    I can look you squarely in the eye and state that you have rather nicely speared the Scottish football authorities.

    Sadly,like so much dissent in this direction,it will be ignored.

    But my grateful thanks for putting it in to words.

  2. The Exiled Tim June 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Another quality piece.

    I would have been one of the 70% who thought OJ was guilty, that was until I saw a C4 programme years later.

    It intimated that OJ was not the killer, but he knew who the killer was, and that he was protecting the identity of the killer, who they speculated was OJ’s son.

    It made sence to me at the time.

    I think I will need to watch a re run of the programme again.

    • Siler City Tim June 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

      I saw that too and was equally convinced. I can’t remember the substance of it now though.

  3. voguepunter June 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    I will put it a lot less eloquently than your good self…
    A fekn scunner :O(

  4. josephmcgrath112001809 June 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    An excellent, thoughtful, well-writen, gem of an article.This is the best bit of journalism I’ve read in weeks.

  5. emusanorphan June 11, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    Terrific piece again BRTH. It certainly makes a lot of sense to decent people. But,as you know, we are not dealing with decent people. We are dealing with hypocrites who like the KKK hide behind masks and hoods. Masks of decency in their homes, workplaces and places of worship. Such dignity!

  6. Maggie June 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    Definition of character : “Doing the right thing when nobody’s looking”
    At the SFA nobody had the decency to do the right thing even when people WERE looking.

    The rest of that quote, by US politician JC Watts, goes on to say : “there are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by,and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”

    We see the truth of this writ large in the constant denial,deflection,arrogance and total lack of remorse in the Rangers/ Sevco family.They’d do well to reflect on the actions of Samuel L Clemens,and the words of the great man affectionately known as “The Bunnet”
    who insisted on paying the creditors of Celtic as it would be shaming to the club’s reputation if they didn’t.

  7. Martin June 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Bravo!

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