In 1994, at the height of the country’s attention toward O.J. Simpson’s trial for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, Jeffrey Toobin forever became linked to the former athlete.
He broke the story, in The New Yorker, that Simpson’s legal team planned to accuse detective Mark Fuhrman of planting evidence.
21 years after the trial of the century, the cast of characters in the case has come back in the news thanks to the popularity of the FX series “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (based on Toobin’s book, “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson”) and the ESPN five-part documentary, “O.J.: Made in America.”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson” won nine Emmys, while “Made in America” won a best documentary Oscar.
And Simpson is now back in the limelight Thursday, as he’s scheduled to have a parole hearing for a prison sentence he’s serving, after being convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping related to a 2007 incident in Las Vegas. The hearing, which will be televised, could lead to the NFL Hall of Famer being released from prison as early as October 1 if things go his way.
Toobin, now a legal analyst for CNN, told Business Insider last year that Simpson shouldn’t even be in prison right now.
“I continue to believe that the Nevada case is bogus, and it’s the perfect irony of the Simpson case that he was acquitted of the crime that he was guilty of and he was convicted of a crime he’s innocent of,” Toobin said. “I really think his 33-year sentence was absurdly long. It was entirely payback for the murder he was acquitted of. It’s not the way the legal system is supposed to work.”
Simpson’s armed robbery and kidnapping conviction was related to when Simpson tried to reclaim what he thought was stolen memorabilia of his from a Las Vegas hotel room. The entire incident is retold in the final chapter of ESPN’s “Made in America.”
Toobin isn’t the only person who believes Simpson was unfairly treated in the Nevada case.
In “Made in America,” attorney Carl Douglas, who was on Simpson’s “Dream Team” of attorneys during his murder trail, says he believes it’s not a coincidence that Simpson had his Nevada case 13 years to the day after being found not guilty in his murder trial, and that he got a 33-year sentence. (Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million in the wrongful-death civil case filed by the Goldman family.)
He thinks there’s significance to the 33 figure and believes the outcome was “payback” for the murder trial.
Toobin doesn’t necessarily agree with Douglas on the years of the sentence being connected to the figure from the civil case, but he does think the verdict was a result of the previous not guilty verdict.
“I do believe that this entire fiasco in Nevada would never have been the subject of a criminal case, much less one that generated a 33-year term, if most people in the world did not believe that O.J. Simpson got away with murder,” Toobin said.
But Toobin admits he doesn’t “stay up at night” thinking it’s an injustice. He believes Simpson is guilty of the murders of Brown and Goldman. And whenever Simpson, 68, is released from prison, it’s a story he is not interested in following anymore.
“I think the story of O.J. once he gets out is seedy and just an example of someone whose true character is coming to the surface, and it’s not a pretty picture,” Toobin said.