THE ACQUITTAL OF OJ SIMPSON: A quick dash to judgment

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The Independent Online
Early last month Judge Lance Ito reported his jurors were "going nuts" with frustration and boredom, cut off from the world in their un-named hotel. They returned from a group boat trip "barking at the seals". As far back as March there were reports of bitter infighting.

In the end their overwhelming desire seems to have been to get it over as fast as possible. "All we can tell is that we have 12 jurors that made up their minds a long time ago. They want to go home so badly that they simply don't care about the appearance of their own rush to judgement," said Peter Aranella, a Los Angeles law professor.

Television news stations in Los Angeles reported yesterday that the jurors were actually packing on Monday morning. Carl Douglas, the only member of the Simpson team to reach the court in time to hear they had reached a decision, said: "Surprised doesn't begin to describe my feelings. I am stunned at the speed."

The case involved 126 witnesses and filled 40,000 pages of trial transcript. But the jury reached a verdict on double-murder charges in about four hours. It led to some speculation that they had broken one of the cardinal rules of the jury room, which was not to discuss the case with each other before it was over.

The jury appeared to prove virtually all the vaunted legal experts, who agreed there would be weeks of deliberation, entirely wrong. It hinted that they were as sick of the case as they were of each other's company.

And it suggested that the high drama of the last week, in which the chief prosecutor, Marcia Clark, spoke of the victims calling for justice with their hair and blood, and the defence attorney, Johnnie Cochran, appealed to racial justice, washed over people

The jury consisted of eight black women and one black man, two white women and one Hispanic man. Most commentators focused on race, and gender was largely overlooked. It was black women who dominated the trial of a black male hero. The eldest on the panel was 71, a retired cleaner, married for 40 years. A heavy smoker, she said in jury selection she "never heard of no OJ Simpson" and never read anything "except the horse sheet".

The two white women were a 22-year-old insurance claims adjuster and a 60-year-old divorcee. She was reported to be the only one to look at OJ Simpson as they returned with their news of a verdict.

One dismissed juror compared life under sequestration to a chain gang. Members were woken at 5.30am, and were allowed to talk to each other only in the corridor or the cafeteria. They were banished alone to their rooms at night.