“Nine — three quarters of the jury — thought O.J. Simpson was less likely to have murdered his wife because he had excelled at football”
Tonight’s episode of FX’s “The People v. OJ Simpson” is about the jury — the 12 people who decided to set OJ Simpson free. You’re likely to come away sympathizing with them, at least a little, whatever your thoughts on the decision they reached.
The episode shows how petty fights — over shopping trips to Ross and Target, whether to watch “Martin” or “Seinfeld” — exacerbated the stress of people held hostage by an endless trial. The episode shows how they often felt like they were on trial or imprisoned themselves.
Jeffrey Toobin’s highly readable “The Run of His Life” — the book on which “The People v. OJ Simpson” is based — includes several interesting details about the 12 jurors and 12 alternates sequestered for the case.
The defense and prosecution alike learned even before jury selection began that African-Americans and whites viewed the case very differently, and both tried to choose a jury they believed would be predisposed to siding with them.
Here are 12 facts Toobin uncovered about the jury:
1. Of the 24 jurors and alternates, 15 were African-American, six were white, and three were Hispanic — “in a county,” Toobin notes, “that is just 11 percent black.” This partly reflected the defense’s attempt to seat a largely African-American jury, because of research that revealed very early on that black and white people perceived the case much differently.
2. Over the trial, 10 jurors were replaced by alternates — but no alternates were ever removed.
3. All 12 of the jurors who ultimately decided the case were Democrats.
4. Two of them graduated college.
5. None read a newspaper regularly.
6. Nine rented homes; three owned.
7. Two had supervisory managerial duties at work.
8. Eight watched TV tabloid shows like “Hard Copy.” (Defense research found that people who liked tabloids were more likely to think Simpson was innocent.)
9. Five said they or a family member had “endured a negative experience with law enforcement.”
10. Five thought it was acceptable to use force on a family member.
11. “Nine — three quarters of the jury — thought O.J. Simpson was less likely to have murdered his wife because he had excelled at football,” Toobin wrote.
12. The prosecutors didn’t exercise all of the peremptory challenges available to them to strike potential panelists.