I know I promised to write more about Making a Murderer. But, two things happened: first, I got busy with my actual job. Second, O.J.
I watched Episode One of the new O.J. series, The People Versus O.J. Simpson, sooo aptly named. The People really are all either for or against him, let’s face it – with a passion. It is actually one of the only cases, ever, where it really does ultimately boil down to what we, the People, think. Just post a blog about it and you’ll find out… quick.
The main reason I write any of this is to educate people about what criminal lawyers actually do. It seems to be an area that needs some input, with a view towards dispelling some of the myths that exist out there about criminal lawyers and how the criminal justice system functions in real life. I will try here to show how that goal ties in with this new O.J. show, although I’m not so sure the O.J. case has anything to do with what criminal lawyers really do. It is truly surreal in that otherwise all too real world of criminal law.
But it actually happened.
And, with “The People”, the ‘people’ at FX have tried to put that O. J. genie into the bottle of a TV docudrama series. The jury is still out on whether they have been able to work this magic. But with stars like John Travolta taking leading roles, it appears they are giving it a serious college touchdown try.
Marcia Clark apparently doesn’t think so however; she is taking issue with the show’s accuracy. Somehow that comes as no surprise. She was so misguided in the way she presented the evidence that she clearly is not open to outside input. I am eager to see more of the way they “mis-portray” her… however accurately. Sorry Marcia. (She’s such a sore loser.)
Up front I want to say that I owe Mr. Kardashian an apology. I had previously criticized him for letting O.J. talk to the cops. Alone? NO competent criminal defense lawyer would ever allow such a thing. That’s why Leonard Kachinsky, the lawyer for Brendan Dassey, in Making a Murderer is such a pathetic excuse for a borderline lawyer. He did the same thing. Here? It is unbelievable that any real lawyer would do this.
However, if the show is to be believed, then it was O.J.’s original ‘lawyer’, Howard Weitzman, who may have allowed this travesty to occur. Whoever it was, they should hang up their shingle. Permanently.
Which brings us back to Travolta. I kept waiting for his ‘Shapiro’ to break out in a disco dance for the cameras. Why not? Everything else he was saying and doing was worthy of a Hollywood fantasy. Especially that strange misshapen face.
My own personal favorite was “Shapiro’s” completely bizarre approach to his first encounter with O.J. He more or less led with “Well. DID you do it, O.J.????” Seriously? This can only be one of two things: either the script is a complete and total fabrication, or Robert Shapiro is one of the worst criminal defense attorneys ever born.
Why do I say that? Simple. NO ONE DOES THAT. Period. Never. As in never ever. Oh, of course, there are lawyers out there who immediately have their clients write down everything that happened in great detailed statements. There is a term used to describe such lawyers: Totally Incompetent.
Personally, I have had many clients to whom I never posed such a question, nor did I want to know. Frankly, for a variety of reasons, it is often best not to know. Why? That way we stay focused on the only thing that really matters: The Evidence.
You see, whether people like it or not, under our criminal justice system, the one we have right here in the United States of America, it should make zero difference to a lawyer whether a Defendant did it or not.
All that matters is the evidence, and whether it can be used against you to overcome the presumption of innocence and prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s it. The Government must overcome the fact that you are presumed innocent of all charges until and unless they are proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
About this point people start calling me a sociopath. I have never understood that, which either makes them right or wrong, depending on how you look at it. I favor the latter explanation.
I think they are wrong because I believe in our criminal justice system, for all its many flaws. There is an excellent but little seen movie starring Richard Gere as a Stanford Lawyer (which, of course, appeals to me) called Red Corner, in which Gere’s lawyer character is falsely accused of killing someone while he is in China. What follows is a fascinating exploration of the fatal flaws of the so-called Chinese Justice system. It makes me want to take back every word I have ever spoken about the problems with our own justice system.
So, if you think the way things really work here is wrong, just get a hold of Red Corner and let me know what you think. I think we have it pretty good, which is why it baffles me that people get so upset when I say cases are about the presumption of innocence and proof (or not) beyond a reasonable doubt, and that that is all that matters.
Which brings us back to O.J. And Shapiro. What was he thinking? Why on earth would he even ask if O.J. did it? I have no idea. It must just be Hollywood getting confused with facts again.