Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is O.J. Running out of Juice? Civil Suit Makes Tougher Fight Defense Lawyers, Facing Tough Job, Are Likely to Paint the Defendant as a Loving Husband

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is O.J. Running out of Juice? Civil Suit Makes Tougher Fight Defense Lawyers, Facing Tough Job, Are Likely to Paint the Defendant as a Loving Husband

Article excerpt

When O.J. Simpson's 12 jurors sit down at the end of his current civil trial, their main question will likely be: Do I trust Mr. Simpson's version of events?

If so, after his long-awaited testimony this week, the former NFL star, on trial for the "wrongful death" of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, has some rough legal running ahead of him - much of it uphill.

Simpson's performance on the stand was considered so inconsistent and contradictory that many legal scholars are now focusing on Part 2 of the civil trial: Simpson's defense strategy, and the problems associated with it. Not only must Simpson "rehabilitate" his image when his defense begins, probably later next month, but his legal team will have to articulate a credible theory of defense - something they have not yet attempted. "The biggest problem is that now O.J. has testified," says Erwin Chemerinsky, law professor at the University of Southern California. "The defense has to persuade the jury that Simpson is a believable person when his own testimony is at odds with most of the other presentations." On the stand for two days, Simpson was hammered by lawyer Daniel Petrocelli. He often had either no answer or made a simple denial to a range of questions about June 12, 1994, when Mrs. Simpson and Mr. Goldman were killed: A polygraph test Simpson failed, unexplained cuts on his finger, statements in Mrs. Simpson's diary, a photo of Simpson wearing shoes said to be identical to those of the murderer, 911 recordings, and photos of a battered Mrs. Simpson taken after a domestic violence report in 1989, among them. Testimony "I'm amazed at how poorly Simpson did on the stand," says Myrna Raeder, an American Bar Association criminal-justice expert. "Given the type of trial this is, O.J. had to have a stellar performance. Now his rehabilitation is going to be a major problem for the defense. …

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