Remembering the OJ Simpson verdict #joblogs

The verdict was shocking in itself but the reaction from a lawyer’s firm down the hall, adjacent to the travel consultancy in which I worked, reverberated through the office block.

Hunched around a tiny radio, two of us listened to the verdict of the trial that had dominated the American consciousness for the majority of 1995. Star American footballer turned Hollywood actor, OJ Simpson, had been indicted for the murder of his former girlfriend Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

The trial was taking place in Los Angeles, just a two-hour drive from our San Diego base and therefore, we couldn’t escape the intensity of the 24-hour coverage that had dominated the news feeds for months.

As two Brits working abroad, we had a certain detachment to the proceedings, having no clue of OJ Simpson’s legendary standing in American sporting folklore, but as the verdict drew closer, not a phone jangled, not a keyboard stroke was made, all office workers in the building collectively held their breath, including us.

‘Not guilty,’ was the verdict. My colleague and I looked at each other in surprise – the general consensus was that the former running back would be found guilty. But before we could even embark on a discussion, a scream, followed by sobbing and then a door crashing against the wall in the office next door shocked us even more.

Someone was distraught about the verdict but the extreme reaction wasn’t just from one employee – we heard many people crying and shouting, some seemingly in triumph, others in disbelief.

The drama played out via muffled sounds through the office walls during the next few hours until eventually all was calm. As a neutral observer, witnessing the explosion of grief and reaction to a case that had pervaded the national consciousness was truly an acute experience.

Chillingly, OJ Simpson later released a book entitled, ‘If I Did It’ in which he put forth a hypothetical description of the murders.

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