Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Geunius of Jake Byrd at the OJ Simpson Trial

I love the fact that OJ Simpson is back in the news and back on trial. It's great. First, it gives me a chance to redeem myself. See, back when OJ was on trial the first time, when I was in middle school, I was convinced of his innocence. I tried to tell people (and honestly believed at the time) that my opinion on the Juice's innocence had nothing to do with his past history as a football legend, but I was obviously blinded by that. Everyone signed my yearbook that year, no joke, "Have a great summer. P.S. OJ is Guilty." I still remember the afternoon the verdict was read. A huge group of us piled into Mr. Koponen's room (my 7th grade English teacher) because he was the only one with a working TV. And when the verdict came down not guilty, the room was silent. Except for me. I cheered. Not one of my prouder moments when I look back on it. Although, I still believe, as a matter of law, there was reasonable doubt in that trial, and the verdict was still likely the right verdict from a legal standpoint. From an actual "did OJ do it" standpoint, I'm no long in that camp.

So, OJ is in trouble again, which brings back so many memories of watching that trial (and I watched it from start to finish) and the launching of careers (like Fox News' Greta Van Susteren and ESPN sports legal analyst Roger Cossack who both worked for CNN at the time). It also brings out comedian Jake Byrd. Byrd loves getting himself on television, and yesterday, at the press conference OJ's lawyer held announcing his release from jail, Byrd planted himself right next to the lawyer (and the microphone) and "helped" answer many of the questions that were asked. He was hilarious, wore an OJ T-Shirt and an "I Heart Famous People" hat and Morning Joe this morning had the video. It's awesome video.

I do have to say though, OJ's lawyer really didn't impress me. Answering one of the questions on the video, the lawyer said he did not see a distinction between "not guilty" and "innocent" (Jake Byrd, helpfully, said "he's both dude!"). Of course there's a distinction though. "Innocent" means you didn't do the crime. "Not Guilty" means maybe you didn't do the crime, but in any case, there isn't enough evidence to convict you of that crime beyond a reasonable doubt. "Not Guilty" is a legal standard. "Innocent" is a categorical statement about whether or not you did it or not. At least regarding that question Jake Byrd, not the lawyer, had it right.

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