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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

O.J. Simpson jury selection renews questions of race

Oj LAS VEGAS -- As testimony in O.J. Simpson's trial on robbery charges gets underway this week, one thing is already abundantly clear: When the former football star enters a courtroom, so does a debate about race.

In jury selection last week, defense attorneys repeatedly tried to dismiss the mostly white jury pool and accused prosecutors of systematically excluding blacks. The allegation prompted Clark County Dist. Atty. David Roger to insist that his choice of jurors had "nothing to do with race."

The 12-member panel chosen Thursday includes no African Americans, though one black man and one black woman will serve as alternates.

What effect, if any, the absence of African Americans on the jury will have remains to be seen. The charges Simpson faces have no obvious racial overtones. Few prospective panelists, black or white, mentioned the issue during intense questioning about Simpson. But some experts say race is sure to play some role in the jury room.

"If it's just a simple robbery case, then it really doesn't matter if the jury is all white," said Osvaldo Fumo, a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney who has been monitoring the case. "But the problem is it's O.J. Simpson. And then it does matter."
Legal observers said it was hard for people to look at Simpson without remembering his past legal troubles, which polarized black and white America.

Simpson's 1995 trial over the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman was televised and watched by millions -- leaving enduring, racially tinged images, including that of a handcuffed Simpson and of Los Angeles Police Department Det. Mark Fuhrman getting caught using racial slurs. The defense turned on allegations of discrimination by law enforcement and possible evidence-tampering, and a predominantly black jury acquitted Simpson. [Mark Godsey]
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Comments

Have you seen new documentary: O.J. is Guilty But Not of Murder, The Overlooked Suspect
by Phil Smith? It will be screened Nov. 8 at Dallas Video Festival.

Internationally renowned private detective, William C. Dear, presents new evidence that he has uncovered in this documentary. This incredible story brings to light some of the pitfalls of a modern day police investigation, while it reminds us that sometimes what we think of as the truth, may not actually be the truth at all.

Posted by: lisa taylor | Oct 20, 2008 4:43:15 PM

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