Simpson Trial Judge Allows TV Camera in Courtroom
Jan. 25, 1995
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The judge in the O.J. Simpson trial accepted Court TV's apology today for accidentally broadcasting the face of an alternate juror and decided against pulling the plug on live television coverage.
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito said he will allow a single, static shot of the courtroom until other physical limitations on the camera can be installed.
Ito said he was summoning an alternate juror whose face was inadvertently shown on television Tuesday and would ask her whether the incident would interfere with her ability to be fair. The alternate would be shown the tape of the brief moment during which the camera accidentally broadcast her face during opening statements of a prosecutor.
The move cleared the way for the defense to present its opening statement on live international television.
Simpson's attorneys had argued that having to wait overnight to present its opening statement _ after prosecutors presented a staggering lineup of physical evidence Tuesday _ hurt their client.
Representatives of Court TV, the network that operates the pool camera for all TV media, apologized for the mistake and Ito accepted the apology.
``The court has had the benefit of a night's sleep on the issue,'' Ito said, noting he had watched the tape eight times.
``I find there was no bad faith involved,'' he said. He complimented the Court TV personnel for immediately alerting him when the error was made by a wide-angle camera sweeping the courtroom.
Attorneys for Court TV offered several remedies, including installing a screen under the camera to prevent photographing the jury box.
The postponement of the defense opening statements had been a blow for the defense. It denied Johnnie Cochran the opportunity to immediately counter the prosecution's case and present the defense's theory in detail for the first time.
In their presentation Tuesday, prosecutors unveiled for the 12 jurors and 10 alternates a case packed with physical evidence. They alleged that Simpson literally left a trail of blood from the bodies to his Bronco to the foot of his bed.
Prosecutors essentially confirmed months of news reports about lab tests. Among their allegations:
_A pair of dark socks found near Simpson's bed contained blood that matched Ms. Simpson's.
_The glove found behind Simpson's mansion held a cocktail of incriminating evidence: a blood mixture that matched the blood of Simpson and both victims, hairs like Goldman's and fibers similar to those on his shirt.
_A blood stain in Simpson's Bronco matched Ms. Simpson's blood.
_Blood drops at the crime scene matched Simpson's blood.
_And a set of bloody footprints _ size 12, the same as Simpson _ were found leading away from the bodies.
For emotional punch, the prosecution showed the jury photos _ many of them projected on a large overhead TV screen _ of the slashed, crumpled bodies of Ms. Simpson and Goldman.
Relatives of the victims and Simpson gasped and cried. At least one picture _ of Ms. Simpson, curled in the fetal position in a pool of blood _ was broadcast on television.
The prosecution contended Simpson killed out of jealousy after his ex-wife broke off their relationship for good. Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden said evidence would show an uglier side of the amiable actor and gifted football player.
``The man you will see is the face of a wife beater, a batterer, an abuser, a controller,'' Darden told the jury, keeping his back to Simpson. ``You will see the face of Ron and Nicole's murderer.''
Throughout the presentation, prosecutors referred to Ms. Simpson by her unmarried name, ``Nicole Brown.'' They called Simpson only ``the defendant.'' And Simpson, elegant in a gray suit and print tie, struggled to maintain a stoic demeanor.
At times he shook his head, arched his eyebrows and bent over to scribble furiously on a yellow legal pad. He filled several pages with notes. Once he leaned over and whispered to Cochran, ``That's a lie.''
During a description of Ms. Simpson's last day of life, he looked toward Ms. Simpson's mother, Juditha Brown, and her sisters and appeared incredulous at what Darden was saying. Mrs. Brown burst into tears.
The prosecution left two major questions unanswered: Where's the murder weapon? And where are the clothes that would have been bloodied during the violent knife slayings?
Prosecutors didn't even offer a theory. All they did was hint about a mysterious little bag seen at Simpson's house less than an hour after the murders, a bag that Simpson seemed particularly eager to handle himself, personally loading it into a limousine that took him to the airport that night.
After Simpson took off for Chicago, said prosecutor Marcia Clark, ``That small dark bag was never seen again.''