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Twenty-five years ago today, October 3, 1995, nearly 150 million people watched the live verdict as O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman. The shocking verdict may have brought an end to the nearly-year-long trial, which was marked by incessant media coverage that gripped the nation, but the case still casts a long shadow. The trial made bona fide celebrities of some of the peripheral characters in Simpson’s life, like Kris Jenner, and has been the subject of numerous documentaries and dramatizations, like The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. In the two decades since the trial, several members of the Dream Team have passed away, while other key lawyers have left the legal profession entirely. Some, like Alan Dershowitz, remain fixtures in the political scene. Simpson himself later did jail time for armed robbery. Here, take a look at the major players from “The Trial of the Century” and where they are now.
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Orenthal James Simpson
Two years after Simpson’s 1995 acquittal, a civil court jury found him liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman, and awarded $33.5 million to the families, which later doubled to $70 million due to interest, as Simpson has never fully paid the restitution. In 2007, he was arrested in Las Vegas and charged with armed robbery and kidnapping, of which he was later convicted and sentenced to 33 years in prison, with a minimum of nine years without parole. He served nine years at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada and was granted parole in July 2017. He was released on October 1, 2017, and has remained a free man since. Now 73, Simpson lives mostly under the radar in Las Vegas.
Marcia Clark, the trial’s lead prosecutor, resigned from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office after the case and left the practice of law. Her memoir of the trial, Without A Doubt, fetched a $4 million advance. Clark, now 67, has gone on to write a series of crime novels and has also appeared as a television commentator about high profile trials.
As Simpson’s lead attorney on “The Dream Team,” Johnnie Cochran captured the spotlight with his charisma and catchphrases—“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” has certainly entered the national lexicon. After the trial, Cochran continued to practice law and appear as a TV commentator. He died of brain cancer in 2005 at age 68.
F. Lee Bailey
Another member of “The Dream Team”, the 87-year-old F. Lee Bailey (who also famously represented Patty Hearst) has fallen from grace since the trial: he was disbarred in both Florida and Massachusetts for his handling of stock owned by a drug-smuggler client. He also filed for bankruptcy in 2016. Even after passing the bar in Maine, where he now resides, he has still been denied a license to practice.
Robert Kardashian was one of Simpson’s oldest friends—they met as students at USC, and Simpson served as best man at Kardashian’s 1978 wedding to Kris Houghton (who, of course, later became Kris Jenner.) Kardashian was not a practicing lawyer when Simpson’s trial began, but he reactivated his practice to join the defense team. He maintained serious doubts about Simpson’s innocence, and the two stopped speaking after the trial. Kardashian died of esophageal cancer in 2003 at age 59. Since his death, Kardashian’s ex-wife and his children, Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob, have become mega-celebrities thanks to their reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Like his co-counsel Marcia Clark, Darden resigned from the DA’s office in the wake of the trial. He went on to teach law at California State University and, similarly to Clark, published a memoir and co-authored several legal thrillers. In 1999, he started his own practice specializing in criminal defense. He is still practicing law, most notably representing Eric Holder, the man charged with killing hip-hop mogul Nipsey Hussle, but Darden withdrew from the case, saying his family had received death threats. In August 2020, the 64-year-old Darden announced that he would represent Corey Walker, the alleged killer of rapper Pop Smoke.
Kris Jenner—the former wife of Robert Kardashian, one of Simpson’s lawyers—was good friends with Nicole Brown Simpson. The four were often photographed together at Los Angeles social events in the late 1980s. In 1991, she divorced Kardashian and married former US Olympian Caitlyn Jenner (born Bruce Jenner.) They divorced in 2015. After the trial, she shot to fame with her reality series with her family, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” The show has spawned numerous business ventures, and Jenner, now 64, remains one of the most visible public figures from the trial.
Famous even before the Simpson trial for getting Claus von Bulow acquitted of murder, Dershowitz emerged as another celebrity super-lawyer. He taught at Harvard Law until 2013 and has advised a number of high-profile clients, including Jeffrey Epstein, Julian Assange, and Harvey Weinstein. Now 82, Dershowitz is still making headlines for advising President Trump throughout his impeachment trial.
Judge Lance Ito’s decision to allow television coverage of the trial was controversial, and in many ways, changed the nature of criminal trials. It was also revealed that Ito’s wife, Margaret York, had been detective Mark Fuhrman’s superior officer in the past, but Ito did not recuse himself from the case. Ito remained a judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court until his retirement in 2015. Now 70, he has kept a low profile since the trial, and has never publicly discussed it or given interviews.
Gil Garcetti, now 79, was two years into his first term as the Los Angeles County District Attorney when the O.J. Simpson trial began. He won reelection to the DA’s office in 1996, but lost in 2000. Since leaving public office, he served on a city ethics commission, as a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, as a consulting producer on the TNT series The Closer and the show Major Crimes. His son Eric Garcetti is the current mayor of Los Angeles.
Robert Shapiro, one of Simpson’s Dream Team lawyers, famously clashed with F. Lee Bailey in the courtroom, and the feuding didn’t stop with the O.J. trial—Shapiro later testified as a government witness against Bailey when he was accused of trying to keep $20 million in stock that one of his clients should have forfeited to the government. Shapiro went on to represent Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts, Eva Longoria, and even Rob Kardashian, his former colleague’s son. After his own son Brent died from a drug overdose in 2005, he founded the Brent Shapiro Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to raise drug awareness and also a rehabilitation facility. He is now 78.
During the trial, Scheck was the unknown lawyer who introduced the still-new science of DNA to jurors. He made headlines for dismantling the police handling of evidence, ultimately wounding the strength of the prosecution’s forensic evidence. He and fellow Simpson lawyer Peter Neufeld co-founded The Innocence Project, which uses DNA evidence to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners. The project has helped overturn over 300 convictions. Scheck, now 71, also teaches at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Resnick was one of Nicole Brown Simpson’s closest friends, who gained notoriety for her cocaine addiction. She checked into a rehab facility three days before Nicole was murdered, and infamously published a salacious tell-all book with a National Enquirer columnist during the trial. Resnick, who is now 63, later wrote another book, and appeared in episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
One of the most vilified figures in the trial was Detective Mark Fuhrman, who was one of the first members of the LAPD to arrive at the murder scene on the night of the crime. Simpson’s defense team argued that Fuhrman had tampered with and planted evidence—and when tapes emerged of Fuhrman using racial slurs against African-Americans, after testifying under oath that he did not use those words, his credibility became irrevocably damaged and he was widely condemned as a racist. Fuhrman retired from the LAPD that year and later pleaded no contest to perjury for his false testimony. Since then, like many participants in the trial, the 68-year-old Fuhrman has written true crime books. He also appears on television and talk radio.
One of the more unusual characters in the trial was Kato Kaelin, a struggling actor who lived in Simpson’s guest house. He was home during the night of the murders and was a minor witness for the prosecution. He was often dubbed “the most famous house guest in America.” He later appeared in sketch comedy, reality shows, and had small parts in television and film. He also won a landmark case in the field of libel law, after the National Enquirer ran a shirtless photo of him with the headline “Cops think Kato did it!”
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