YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The O.j. Simpson Murder Trial

Arenella, Levenson & Co.: The Legal Pad

August 29, 1995

UCLA law professor Peter Arenella and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson offer their take on the Simpson trial. They are joined by defense lawyer Jill Lansing, who will rotate with other experts as the trial moves forward. Today's Topic: A prosecutor should have heeded Judge Lance A. Ito's advice.


On the defense: "Effective advocacy requires style as well as substance. Contrast Hank Goldberg's labored six-hour cross with Barry Scheck's sharp and brief redirect. Scheck undermined innocent explanations for the second set of shoe prints by suggesting that bungling police officers stepped on Ron Goldman's body to leave prints on his jeans. Such images imply that the only innocuous explanation for the second set of prints is one that still establishes police incompetence."

On the prosecution: "Hindsight might be 20/20, but Goldberg had Ito's foresight about how to handle Dr. Henry Lee: quickly secure Lee's endorsement of PCR testing and get him off the stand. Goldberg only did the former. Goldberg also elicited Lee's concession that O.J. might have been the source of the blood transfer stain on his sock. But he did not undermine Lee's conclusions about the length of the struggle and the second set of shoe imprints."


On the defense: "Scheck must have been smiling ear to ear after Goldberg's cross of Lee. Not only did Goldberg have difficulty challenging Lee's opinions, but when he successfully made points, their impact seemed to get lost in Goldberg's convoluted questions. Scheck's redirect was more focused and brought out the most important points of Lee's testimony: There were additional imprints at the crime scene and there were blood transfers on the bindles."

On the prosecution: "Why oh why did prosecutors designate Goldberg to conduct Lee's cross? Goldberg was so wrapped up in technicalities that he failed to clarify why Lee's opinions did not undermine the prosecution's case. The simple points he needed to make were: Imprints seen June 25 weren't necessarily present June 12, you can't know for sure whether swatches were 100% dry when bindled and Bruno Magli prints were beside left-handed blood drops."


On the defense: "Goldberg's attacks on possible shoe imprints of a second assailant didn't diminish the impact of similar impressions found on the envelope, paper and jeans right after the murders. Blood swatch drying times suggested swatches shouldn't have been wet unless there was "something wrong." Lee's imagery of the killer in Michael Jackson-length pants in order to expose a sock to the blood transfer may leave an indelible imprint on jurors' minds."

On the prosecution: "In an interesting role-reversal, Goldberg offered poor techniques by criminalists and crime-scene contamination to explain the evidence: Blood transfers from swatches suggest poor technique, not planting of evidence; inside-out socks may explain blood stains; damage to Goldman's shoes may have predated the murders, and photos taken on June 25 may have captured imprints made after other people were admitted to the crime scene."

Compiled by HENRY WEINSTEIN / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times Articles