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OJ Fact Check: Did a Guard Really Tell Simpson the Verdict Was ‘Not Guilty’?

”The People v OJ Simpson“ is right that O.J. was chummy with his guards

(Spoiler alert: Maybe don’t read this if you haven’t watched the finale of FX’s “The People v OJ Simpson.”)

Before the verdict is delivered in “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” a jail guard named Eddie tells O.J. what “a pleasure” it’s been to guard him, and says he’s “always been a standup guy.” Then he asks Simpson to sign a football for his kid.

Simpson confides that he’s “so nervous” about the verdict, and Eddie tells him a secret.

“You know, I don’t think you need to be nervous,” he says. “I’ve been talking to my buddies over at the hotel where they’re keeping the jurors. Let’s just say I don’t think you need to be nervous at all.”

Did it really happen? It’s more than possible. Welcome to O.J. Fact Check.

The scene illustrates a point that Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Run of His Life,” the basis for the show, makes again and again: While there was no police conspiracy to frame O.J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, there was a concerted effort by police to toady up to a rich and famous athlete, and give him special treatment.

The police even looked the other way when Simpson beat Nicole, Toobin argues.

Two points from Toobin’s book stand out.

First, Simpson’s guards knew he was going to get off. Toobin wrote:

It was the last leak in the case — from the sheriff’s deputies guarding the jury to their colleagues guarding Simpson: O.J. was going to walk.

Second, Simpson did indeed have a let-me-sign-that-football-for-you relationship with his jailers. Toobin wrote of Simpson’s life after the trial:

Simpson sees few of his friends from before the murders, but he does socialize with several of the sheriff’s deputies who guarded him in jail. Simpson tells them he remains confident that, in time, he will be able to resume his former career or being O.J.

Of course, that was before Simpson heisted some memorabilia and got sent to prison. Oops.

Whether or not the jailhouse conversation occurred, it could have.

Soon before the “People v. O.J. Simpson” finale aired, I had the privilege of talking with the show’s lead writers, Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, about how and why they took a few dramatic liberties in the service of their story. You can read their explanations here.

One thing they cheerfully confessed is that Michael Jackson wasn’t really scared of lime green.

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