O.J.: THE LAST WORD by Gerry Spence


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 Buried under windbag sermonizing and lofty moralizing lies a cogent analysis of how the prosecution lost the O.J. Simpson case. Celebrated defense attorney Spence (The Making of a Country Lawyer, 1996, etc.) devotes the first half of his book to establishing his bona fides as a man of the people: a country bumpkin in a buckskin jacket, a lawyer who scorns lawyers (who he witheringly says lack ``personhood'') and idealizes jurors (simple folks drenched in the wisdom of life experience). Spence can also be wildly inconsistent, at one moment saying, for instance, that Faye Resnick's account has a ring of truth, at another labeling it ``swill.'' But despite arrogant lawyers and dishonest cops, the real villain for Spence is the media and its ``rape of the judicial process''--invading the courtroom, corrupting the lawyers by making them celebrities, and offering endless punditry by commentators who, Spence claims, know nothing about trying a case. Of course, he admits, he was a media pundit himself. Still, he is a leading trial attorney (whom Simpson had wanted on his defense team), and he scores some illuminating points on why Marcia Clark and Chris Darden failed to make their case to the jury--and outlines the case they could have made. Most chilling is his retelling of two incidents: First, the events of January 1, 1989, when police responded to a battered Nicole Simpson's call for help--O.J.'s escape that night paralleled his escape after Nicole's and Ron Goldman's murder. Even more eerie is another incident never presented at the criminal trial: Right before the murders, Simpson was filming a scene for a TV show that also strangely prefigured the murders and in which, playing a former SEAL, he could have learned the slashing technique used to kill his ex-wife and her friend. Spence believes that O.J. was guilty but that the jury's acquittal was just. If his brief were less self-righteous, his legitimate arguments would be easier to swallow. (Literary Guild selection)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-18009-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1997


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