OJ: the suits, the Bronco, and, oh yeah, the trial

"So far OJ hasn't missed a minute of the proceedings in court," said Sue Ellicot on Sunday night, fronting The Trial of OJ Simpson, BBC2's helpful condensation of the story so far. Crikey, I thought, I would hope not. I mean if he's bored by all this stuff what hope for the rest of us? Even OJ, though, couldn't be expected to absorb all of the astonishing fringe festival of expertise that the trial has generated. CNN is best at this, occasionally delivering the equivalent of ball-by-ball commentary on the unfolding action. ("Jim, nice move from Marcia Clarke there. She's put the defence on the back foot?" "Absolutely, Tom, perfectly timed objection and Johnny Cochran wasn't ready for it. He's going to have to work his way out of this.") It would be nice if the State of California team could be described as The Offense, but that little detail apart it's often indistinguishable from the Superbowl.

The BBC has made a sensible decision with its weekly update on the trial, realising that you either watch everything (and get sucked into the addictive minutiae of American jurisprudence) or you take the highlights only. So, even though they are compressing five days taping into 50 minutes, they still find time to get outside the courtroom. OJ Simpson may display some of David Letterman's "10 signs that you have been watching too much Court TV" (sign eight in particular - "you have an overpowering urge to pay people to lie for you") but television viewers here aren't in any imminent danger. This weekend, for example, you were offered relief from the People's suit against OJ Simpson by a brief report on OJ's suit itself - apparently he leaves prison in fatigues (cue helicopter footage of man entering minibus) but is allowed to gussy up before he enters court (cue footage of Robert Shapiro, the world's most expensive valet, carrying a suit on a coat-hanger).

Usefully, for a weekly programme, the prosecution has a powerful interest in leaving the jury with a weekend cliffhanger. This week was a humdinger - Mark Ferman, the police officer who found the bloody glove in OJ's grounds and whom the defence hope to prove is a racist, ended the proceedings by holding up a large shovel. This had been found in the boot of OJ's white Bronco, along with a very large plastic bag. Way too big for a poop- scoop, you thought, mind racing wildly on such elementary conundrums as: "How long would it take a former running back to dig a hole 3ft by 6ft by 3ft?"

This is the true fascination of the OJ Simpson trial - not its elaboration of some incontrovertible truth but the endless manipulation of the facts in order to catch a desired light. The handling of Ferman was a good case in point, a tricky problem for Marcia Clarke, who has to overcome the suggestion that the policeman might have planted evidence. She began with his attendance at a much earlier disturbance on OJ's property, where he'd been called after Simpson had smashed the windscreen of his car with a baseball bat. Ferman's testimony was dull and monosyllabic, undramatic and immaterial. But it wasn't there, you suddenly realised, to establish a pattern of violence on the accused's part. It wasn't about OJ at all but about the policeman: this was his opportunity to demonstrate how scrupulously indifferent he could be to the sight of an agitated black man and a weeping white woman. "He doesn't do embroidery," you were meant to think.

But Marcia Clarke has the problem that she has to construct a coherent narrative. The defence doesn't - it simply has to introduce as much incoherence as it possibly can and hope that the jury mistake their growing confusion for a reasonable doubt. Ferman's "cross" this week should be a bravura display of distraction, an attempt to make the shape of murder disappear in a dazzle of black and white.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor