December 6th, 2008

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12:17 pm - Run Juice, Run!!!!

OJ Simpson
The Juice is UNloose!
Kind of amazing, huh? I'm posting two blog-rants in less than 24 hours. There was a time when I posted here each and every day, but these days i center so much on other projects that I'm lucky to post here once a month. That said, I talked about pop culture earlier, and I thought I told an interesting story, so check it out.

Now to the issue at hand. OJ Simpson was sentenced yesterday for his conviction on theft charges. Believe it or not, despite my stance on OJ the murderer, I'm actually ok with the current verdict. Why? Because I actually believe that the two offenses are completely separate and one should have no bearing on the other. Did the Juice break into a building and try to steal some shit? Yes. That's the end of that story. And if that's a crime then let him be punished.

But my problem right now is with the sentencing. The judge yesterday stated that she was sentencing on this crime and this crime alone. Any previous occurrances would have no bearing whatsoever on her decision. She then issued a 33 year sentence for what is essentially a first offense robbery charge. 33 years to a man that by all accounts wasn't even the gunman in the offense. 33 years to a man who by all accounts was robbing from thieves. 33 years to a man who is 61 years old. Effectively a life sentence... for robbery. BULLSHIT!!!

In the hood, if someone steals your shit and you know who has it, you know what yo do? You go and take it back. That's what you do. That's what anyone would do. If you want to argue it's wrong, fine. But seriously 33 years?

SNL made the joke at the beginning of this trial that he was "being tried for armed robbery, but really the murder of 2 people." That is what's happening here. And that is wrong.

I know this isn't going to be popular. beststephi has frequently said about my OJ rants, that "good, I can't feel sorry for that man." But see that's the problem. You should feel sorry for OJ. The man is being railroaded., The justice system only works if it is a system. If it is fair. Lets say OJ did skate on murder charges. Lets say he's a huge asshole who killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend. Let's say he then spent 13 years openly bragging about it and generally being an asshole. Let's say all of that happened. You know what, the justice system should still protect him. The justice system has not protected him here. Not only was the justice system unable to protect him from the initial theft, but it has punished him, and excessively so, for protecting his own interests.

I get it, I know people don't like OJ. I know most people believe he skated on the earier charges. But you know what? None of that should matter. The LA Times should not have a headline that OJ FINALLY goes to jail. And if this is really about justice being served on this particular case then why the fuck is the first person who is interviewed outside of the courtroom by the media Fred Goldman? Fred Goldman is a self-righteous, greedy, opportunistic piece of shit, and what's worse, he's a piece of shit that has absolutely NOTHING to do with this case. Honestly, he really didn't have anything to do with the first OJ case other than inserting himself for his own personal gain. And yet, in this case he's the first person the news goes to when the sentence is read. "Finally," he says, "that S.O.B. is off the streets." Gee Fred, I hope you sleep easier now. I know I do. I feel so much safer knowing that OJ isn't out there prowling the streets murdering people. How did we make it through the last 13 years.

The purpose of the justice system is to protect the people. It is not about revenge. It is not about vengeance. It's about JUSTICE. Or at least its supposed to be. And justice was not served here. The second we start being happy about making an exception because "well, its OJ and he should have gone down 13 years ago" is the second we all lose.

Would it matter if he wasn't black? Would any of this be an issue? I have never for one second believed in Bobby Blake's innocence. Not for a second. And Blake also got off. And you know what happened then? Blake went away. The media just forgot about him. They let him go. Nobody says anything about him and we never see him. In OJs case, people like to blame him for not "going away" but you know what? OJ TRIED to go away. He retired, he moved. He tried to spend the rest of his life in obscurity and Fred Goldman and the media followed him. Yes, OJ became a tabloid magnet, but he didn't really try to be. People always blame him for that, but really, what did he do? He tried to live his life, play golf and hang out with his friends and family. OJ didn't go out clubbing. He didn't hold press conferences. It was the world that wouldn't let OJ go.

I think the world likes to punish black atheletes. Plaxico Burress is an idiot, but does he really deserved three years on an expired permit charge? I mean really? Michael Vick? Dog fighting charges? Ok, it was gross and disgusting and maybe even evil, but people behave as though Vick is the antichrist. The worst human being to walk the earth since... well, since OJ. And what did he do? He did mean things to dogs. Things that in some circles are considered normal. Am I saying it's right? No, its wrong. But it's also excessive.

So yeah, OJ is in jail now. I hope last night everyone was able to sleep easier last night without the spectre of Simpson hanging over our heads. I hope the world has changed to a happy place where birds sing and flowers bloom. Rainbows are flooding the sky. Woohoo. I for one weep for the obvious suspension of our legals system just to appease the bloodlust of the masses.

(14 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]From: sexyhockihoochi Date: December 6th, 2008 - 08:05 pm (Link)
33 years for an armed robbery with aggravating factors (kidnapping charges, conspiracy charges, etc) is actually a pretty normal sentence. She could have given him and the other guy life in prison.

Plus a sentence of 33 years means he will serve at least 9 years in prison. Most people (unless you're on death row) don't serve their full sentence.

If John Doe gets 33 years for the same crime(s), why shouldn't OJ get 33 years?
[User Picture]From: akiramich Date: December 6th, 2008 - 08:33 pm (Link)
I actually have all the sympathy in the world for Fred Goldman. He son was murdered, and while OJ was found criminally innocent, the Goldman's won a civil court case against him and were awarded $33 million. OJ has been ducking this financial obligation for years and Mr Goldman had just been persistant in collecting the monies that were due him from that court case. Again if you won a judgement for a you would not be blamed for persuing the person who owed you the money to get everything you have coming to you...
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 6th, 2008 - 09:07 pm (Link)
I have no sympathy for Fred Goldman whatsoever and I never have. Yes his son is dead, and that's tragic. But that's not the end of the story. At the time of Ron and Nicole's death, Fred Goldman and his son were not on speaking terms and reportedly hadn't really been in quite some time. Fred Goldman isn't nor has he ever been, looking for justice. He's also not really looking for money (he has plenty). He's looking to assuage his own guilty conscience through the eternal suffering of the man who he blames for causing it. Yes, he has every right to hate OJ. I have no problem with that, but in hating OJ, he has made a mockery of the legal system in order to dispense his own justice.

Now on to the 33 million that OJ owes Goldman. OJ is was not found guilty of murder in the second trial as many people believe. Actually, he was found civilly liable for Ron Goldman's death (not Nicole's) in a vague and ambiguous way. Had OJ been found guilty in criminal court, the civil suit could never have come about as double jeopardy attaches. Through the workings of the American Legal system, you're allowed to sue someone for wrongful death if they're found criminally not guilty. The reasoning is supposed to be so that the families can get financial restitution for an accidental death not caused through criminal means. Say, I carelessly run over your mother in my truck. Or I design the safety harness that fails and causes your son to fall to his death. That is the circumstance in which you sue me. The Harts had a civil case against the WWF for Owen's death, though there was clearly no criminal intent.

Goldman used his financial power to manipulate the American legal system into giving him vigilante justice. And furthermore he did it in an excessive way. Civil suits are supposed to award restitution based on damages and reasonability of the defendant to pay. At the time of the murder OJ was actually in debt, being worth about $800K, and owing $650K in back taxes to the government, plus his own millions in legal fees for the trial. Ron Goldman was a waiter at a restaurant. The likelihood that Ron would have made $33.5 million in his life (or five lives) is highly unlikely. So damages were not that high and OJ did not have the capacity to pay it. The court found that the affection that Ron had for the unit of his parents together (though they were split up) was worth $9million. Furthermore it found that the affection that Ron had for the unit of his father and OJ's kids was worth an additional $24.5million. OJ would have to pay off th $9million first, then the remaining $24.5million from whatever he earned for the rest of his life before he could keep one penny for himself. Since he's unemployable, he'd never amount to anywhere near that. But for a law that keeps you from suing anyone out of their pension (which admittedly was rather large in his case, $20K a month) OJ would have been homeless and living on the streets. As such he decided to not even try to work, since really, what was the point.

If OJ were John Doe and Fred Goldman was Joe Sixpack, that never could have happened. And that is my problem. This wasn't justice. It was a rich guy who didn't get the result he liked, and so he decided to buy his own result at the expense of the legal system. And that in my book makes him an ass. The fact that OJ is also an ass doesn't change that.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 6th, 2008 - 08:46 pm (Link)
ok, to be fair, I was avoiding the technical breakdown and such. But I don't really buy the kidnapping charge, and the conspiracy charge while true, technically, is just silly. Most crimes have a conspiracy behind them. As for the armed robbery charge, he wasn't actually caring a gun, others in his company were. In fact, his co-defendant, with the same charges was only given 27 years.

Yes, he can theoretically get parole after nine years, (and in fact, the media is reporting a "nine year minimum sentence") but do any of us honestly believe that he's going home after nine years, even on the best possible behavior?

I could be silly and point out that the man has a Heismann trophy and so the normal rules of society should be relaxed for him, but I don't think I even need a joke here. I really believe what happened to him was excessive. Certainly legal, and maybe even karmically just, but given the nature of the crime, I still feel the sentence is excessive. The Nevada State code calls for a robbery conviction to carry a sentence of 2 to 15 years which seems reasonable. The other 18 are pile-ons simply to cause additional punishment, not to protect the public or rehabilitate, which is something I've personally never agreed with.

So yes, if he were John Doe, I'd still be saying the same thing.
[User Picture]From: sexyhockihoochi Date: December 6th, 2008 - 10:23 pm (Link)
Conspiracy charges are pretty common, widely used, and very successful for the most part. Kidnapping isn't kidnapping in the sense that he took a 4 year old and held him hostage. It's also kidnapping when you detain someone illegally, which is what he did. Most of the news reports I've read said the OJ had a gun on him. Either way, there's a woman with a life-in-prison sentence because her lover robbed a bank with a gun, and she was given the same sentence as him, even though she was sitting in the car.

The Nevada code might call for that punishment for robbery, but when you add in conspiracy, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and burglary, he got a pretty light sentence.

Really, he knew he was guilty (hello, video tape of him doing it!), and he could've taken the plea deal and gotten a hell of a less time. But instead, he wanted to prove that he could beat the system and that his waning celebrity status would protect him.

And I'd really hate to break it to you, but our criminal justice system is not about protecting the public OR rehabilitating. It's about revenge and anyone who says otherwise at this point hasn't done enough research on the subject. If it was about protecting the public or rehab, we wouldn't be locking up prostitutes or giving people who have 6 ounces of crack on them mandatory 25 year-life sentences.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 6th, 2008 - 11:30 pm (Link)
Conspiracy charges: Oh, sure, I know that. However, I personally consider that weak and am against it in concept. I'll grant that it's legal, but generally, as you pretty much are agreeing, this is a conspiracy charge that is piled on to make the sentence more stringent. It's something that I am against in principle and has nothing to do with this case in specific. Also, it's not always done. Which is kinda my issue with it.

Kidnapping charges: I know what they mean, but again, Nevada State Code, one could in fact argue he committed a first degree kidnapping with the intent to rob, as he detained the victims while he was robbing them, but similarly I think that's trumping up the charges to punish "that evil murdering bastard who got away with it." that's my point. I'm not blaming the Judge per se. I'm blaming the people. All of them. Holding someone at gunpoint and not letting them go until they give you their stuff isn't kidnapping and robbing. It robbing. That's what robbing is. That's why not every mugger gets a kidnapping charge. At the end of the day, what OJ did was no worse (or better) than any other thug who robbed someone at gunpoint and being OJ aside, he should have been treated like anyone else.

Pleas and Celebrity: Oh no doubt. He was clearly guilty and he's an idiot. I don't at all mean to defend him. But I'm not really talking about OJ's failings. I'm talking about the failings of the system

Penal system: Oh, but I disagree. I've done a lot of research on it. I'll grant that I don't have a criminology degree, as you do, but I do have a cultural studies degree and have taken a couple classes on it specifically. Again, I'll cite Foucault here. While vengeance was the basis for the justice system, in modern times that system has been revamped for both social and efficiency reasons. The PEOPLE believe in vengeance, but it cannot be the governments job to dispense it. Instead we dispense discipline. Hence using incarceration instead of public flogging, or lethal injection rather than drawing and quartering. This is why we lock up prostitutes and crack fiends. No one is getting revenge on the prostitutes. There's no wronged party. No one is looking for an eye for an eye on smoking crack. We lock them up to deter others from smoking crack or charging for sex. We lock them up so we can say "don't turn turn tricks or smoke a pipe, because if you do, we're sending you away. (Now, to be fair, I have alternate stances here as well, I don't think either of those things should be a crime, but that's a different issue altogether)
From: brotherless_one Date: December 6th, 2008 - 09:01 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 6th, 2008 - 09:40 pm (Link)
not exactly.

actually, your mincing semantics and legality. But for the record the justice system is the american court system and the legal system is the set of rules that governs it. It's not about karmic or biblical justice. The modern justice system is based around a concept of discipline for misdeeds rather than punishment for those deeds. Hence the abolishment of torture in most modern social systems.1.

Under your logic, what OJ was trying to do in this particular circumstance was in fact to enact "fairness." He was attempting to recover goods previously stolen from him. Neither defense not prosecution really dispute that. But frontier justice has long since been abolished in this country and most society, and I don't support OJ's method of vigilantism anymore than I support Goldman's.

However, incarceration isn't meant to bring retribution style justice. It's meant as a form of discipline justice, as the modern system supports. Sentencing is intended to be a deterrent to the commission of future crimes (by the actor and especially by others) rather than satisfaction for the victims. This is a subtle difference that most people don't actually understand.

That said, it can only work, if the system is fair. The first principle of justice:

First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive scheme of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar scheme of liberties for others.2

Justice cannot be random, because then it does not serve as a proper deterrent. In order for it to work, the criminal must believe that consistent punishment must exist despite the actor and that the action reaction to the initial infraction must be fair. Without logical consistency on the most base and simple levels of the system, it does not serve it's intended purposes.

1. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Foucault, Michel. 1975
2. A Theory of Justice, Rawls, John. 1971
From: brotherless_one Date: December 6th, 2008 - 11:08 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: severinpgh Date: December 6th, 2008 - 09:13 pm (Link)

Frankly, I'm with you on your reaction..

I honestly don't know enough about this case to comment intelligently, so I'll leave the question of guilt or innocence to folks who know better. I _did_ however, follow the original murder trial.. actually recorded some of it and did a piece of music examining it as the media event that it was turned into. (end of preamble)
So, all of that having been said, I agree that this is being taken as a 'do-over' in the sentencing.. And frankly that's a stinking load. If it _weren't_ under consideration, I can hardly imagine that the judge should have brought it up. The media response I've been exposed to has been asinine, but then, mostly the media is there to sell media, and it's bread and the circus this week apparently.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: December 6th, 2008 - 09:48 pm (Link)

Re: Frankly, I'm with you on your reaction..

Oh, don't get me wrong. He's definitely guilty this time. He has a strong moral argument. He was trying to steal back his own stuff, afterall. But at the end of the day, he broke the law. You DON'T do what he did. My question is more of the exact justice of this situation, and I am saying what you are. People aren't happy because they believe the criminals OJ robbed at gunpoint are being avenged, they're happy believe that Nicole and Ron are being avenged, and that's not how its supposed to work, and as you say if that weren't the case, then the judge shouldn't have mentioned it. And the media is CLEARLY going that way, otherwise, Fred Goldman would have nothing to do with this case. Truth be told, Fred Goldman shouldn't have had anything to do with the original murder case. Sure, he has a vested interest in the outcome, but he has no actual knowledge of what went on, nor the investigation after the fact, and really shouldn't have become the folk hero he did.
[User Picture]From: severinpgh Date: December 7th, 2008 - 05:43 pm (Link)

Re: Frankly, I'm with you on your reaction..

*shrugs* As I said above, I'm not going to argue on guilt or innocence, as I didn't follow it. At the same time one accepts a not guilty as meaning 'not guilty', one must do similarly to the 'guilty' (at least, until appeal is sustained)-- they are both results of legal apparatus. Rather, I was echoing with consonant critique of the _handling_ of the matter.
You get me from there on.
[User Picture]From: suicideking Date: December 6th, 2008 - 11:57 pm (Link)
I agree with your main idea. He should not be punished for the crimes he is charged with, not the ones he was acquitted on.

However, I think that is what happened.

He illegally entered a hotel room with two armed men and robbed them. There were two people in that room, so that is a count of kidnapping, assault and robbery for each. Tack on that they had guns and that ups the charges to "... with a deadly weapon." This wasn't some smash and grab. They planned who there were robbing and why. That adds the conspiracy. 9-33 sounds fair in my opinion.

And OJ didn't try and disappear. He said he wouldn't rest until he found the real killers. Then he went golfing. For everyone who felt that he got off and was guilty, that raised some ire. It seemed like he was gloating. He tried to host a TV show that was a rip off of "Punk'd." Then he wrote a book about how someone could have done the crime he was tried for. If he was trying to disappear, he wasn't trying very hard.

There may be some bias because he is black. However, he did the crimes he was charged for, so it is kind of a moot point. He didn't get mercy on some of the crimes, but did he deserve it? Just because someone else gets a lesser sentence doesn't make it right to give OJ one.
[User Picture]From: sui66iy Date: December 7th, 2008 - 06:53 pm (Link)
I agree with your main point, that the legal system should use fair and consistent criteria. There shouldn't be "make up calls". But I'm not convinced by your examples, particularly.

I'm not a legal expert, but I believe that in Plaxico's case, New York has a mandatory 3.5 year minimum sentence for carrying an unlicensed handgun in a public place. You may not like the law, but by your own fairness criteria, it would be the correct sentence (and, in fact, the minimum one). (Assuming, of course, that he is convicted, but I find it hard to imagine how he could not be.)

As for O.J.'s sentence, I think if you're really interested in making the case that it's an outrageous sentence, you should do some research and find out what the state's sentencing guidelines are and what some sentences were in comparable cases. Maybe you're right, but maybe you're wrong. And as someone else said, remember that the sentence number is inflated --- he most likely will not serve anything close to the full term.

Finally, you seem to be conflating legal punishments with society's judgment as a whole. Yes, a lot of people act like Vick is that anti-christ, but you know what? People love dogs. And his sentence isn't really super-long. It's my own business if I want to hate on Vick --- or defend him --- I don't get a vote in the court-room either way. Anyway, it's ALWAYS a big story when celebrities and politicians get in trouble --- I don't think black athletes get it that much worse than anyone else. I mean, Plax catches the winning touchdown in one of the best super bowls ever played, and then totally comes apart at the seams. How can you expect the papers and the tabloids to stay away from a story like that?

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