Patterico's Pontifications


The O.J. Posts — Part Four: We Really Could Have Used Bill Hodgman

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 11:06 am

[This is Part Four of a series of posts on the O.J. Simpson trial. Part One is here; Part Two is here; Part Three is here.]

As I mentioned the other day, I know Bill Hodgman well enough to have formed a strong and favorable impression of the man. He was my wife’s boss in the Sex Crimes Unit downtown, and was beloved by everyone there. He tried the Charles Keating case (ironically, a case reversed due to an incorrect jury instruction fashioned by Lance Ito) with a mentor of mine named Paul Turley. Paul and Bill went to lunch with me to celebrate one of the anniversaries of the Keating conviction (I think it was the 10th), and told me all sorts of fascinating stories about the trial. Anyway, I admit to a strong bias in favor of Hodgman. He’s a guy who is always thinking about strategy and has a solid understanding of people and what drives their decisionmaking. He is a quality person — a hardworking, talented, and dedicated D.A., a man with a firm sense of ethics, and a heck of a nice guy.

Hodgman periodically gives a presentation to the Sex Crimes Unit on the O.J. Simpson case. He tells stories about the case, goes through the evidence, and does a slideshow presentation at the end, essentially giving a short version of what would have been his closing argument at trial, if he had remained in a primary courtroom role on the case (he had to give up a larger role in the case due to heart trouble). The stated reason for the presentation is to instruct deputies how to handle big, high-profile media cases, but it also gives people a chance to satisfy their curiosity about the O.J. case. One year he gave the presentation when my wife was a Deputy in the Sex Crimes Unit, and I asked Bill if it would be okay for me to attend. He graciously allowed me to do so.

After watching the presentation I agreed with everyone else who saw it: it’s a real shame that Bill didn’t get to stay with the case in a more primary and active role. His argument was riveting and compelling. He would have had a much better chance of convincing the jurors downtown of the merits of this case, in which he believed passionately. It was clear from listening to his presentation that he had thought through the common-sense issues that might trouble most jurors, and had devastating answers for each.

I don’t think that there is anything that would have convinced these particular jurors, short of having seen the crime with their own eyes — and even then, I suspect some of them would have chosen not to believe their lying eyes. But it certainly couldn’t have hurt to have had Bill Hodgman trying and arguing the case.

P.S. Bill’s presentation covered issues like whom O.J. killed first, how O.J.’s guilt was consistent with the available blood evidence, what might have happened to the bloody clothing, and the like. I wish I could recount those details for you in this post. However, I can’t remember all of the details, and I want to make sure I get them right. I can tell you this, however: I phoned Bill yesterday, and he agreed to meet with me sometime in the future to go over those details with me so that I can present them to you accurately. I can’t say when that will be, as he is extremely busy nowadays, but I hope that it will happen sometime in the coming weeks or months.

Stay tuned for that. It should be interesting.

9 Responses to “The O.J. Posts — Part Four: We Really Could Have Used Bill Hodgman”

  1. Wasnt one of OJs lawyers JOHNY COCKRAN one of those who wanted to sue for reperations for slavery? but HE,S DEAD JIM

    krazy kagu (1f0194)

  2. As someone who was not interested in the day-to-day proceedings at the time of the trial, I thank you for this insightful series.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  3. Here’s a thought I’ve had since the trial concluded and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it discussed (of course, I didn’t follow the trail and the aftermath all that much, so I could easily have missed it).

    I think one of the biggest mistakes was allowing the trial to be broadcast. The presence of the TV cameras gave the competing sides the opportunity to “play to the grandstands.” Wouldn’t this be an incentive to overly dramatize the presentations? Would we have had “The Dancing Itos” if the trial had not been broadcast? Any opinions?

    Bill M (d9e4b2)

  4. I realize that Conventional Wisdom is that the prosecution would have done much better if Mr Hodgman had been more involved, but based on the involvement he did have in the opening statements I am not buying.

    seePea (f98cd2)

  5. It would be interesting to see his ideas in a book. I doubt there is that much interest anymore but maybe he should think about something in the line of a reference work for lawyers, something like the seminars you mention.

    Bugliosi wrote such a compelling book about Manson that I wouldn’t let my kids read it until they were older. It scared the crap out of me.

    Mike K (416363)

  6. I very much look forward to your presentation of these crucial details of Hodgman’s.
    I lived with that trial as every other Angeleno did, but in spite of all the nonsense and goofs I was certain based only on the evidence that OJ would go to prison; in fact, I felt(I’m white)that the pundits who were certain he’d walk because the jurors were prejudiced in his favor racially were themselves bing racist and patronising. Um, D’OH! I didn’t know the “racial divide” in this town that was so apparent to everyone else existed the way it does and did. I’m now 43 and grew up in a city where I felt no fear or animus as a kid taking the RTD down Crenshaw, and where our public school in Hancock Park emphasized racial harmoney, tolerance and the evils of prejudice(as “racism” was more accurately called then). The casual, key assumption of those jurors that every caucasian in L.A. grew up using the “n word” still shocks me. And it still makes me sick to my stomach that he went free.

    Jen (b69094)

  7. Mike K: Why was Bugliosi’s book a compelling true crime story? In his workaday life, a prosecutor tells “true crime stories” to the jury, and he has a lot of experience making them as good as he can. That’s why a prosecutor may not have to stretch much to become a true-crime storyteller.

    dchamil (2a92dd)

  8. Patterico–Be sure to ASK hodgeman WHY all the O.J. evidence etc was turned over to him, instead of staying at the courthouse,like other cases.
    As they say “everything is stored in Hodgeman’s basement”.
    ODD huh???????????????

    / (da9b46)

  9. Oh my, I hope your wife gets a raise(or got one if moved on), or you get a kleenex large enough to wipe away the OJ skin colored stains.
    My golly, and you still wonder WHY the jurors, even admitteedly as insane as you claim they are, get a bad taste in their mouth when some yapping psycho on the law enforcement team extols their powwow badge man next to them or on the stand as the brightest, happiest, cleanest, and most ethical, and most loved person to ever inhabit the face of the earth, then goes on with the rest of their then “tainted”, bile.
    I’ve got to tell you friend, you people don’t start with the juries you think you do. You create them.
    I mean reread your statement up there, and tell me what sentient being can even begin to believe it, other than, with the full knowledge it is one of the most glaring *** kissings likely encountered in at least the past month ?
    Yes, even if it is all true. Don’t you think jurors get sick and tired of hearing about these extraordinary individuals at every turn of the prosecutor ? Did you ever think you (the failed courtroom heroes) might be grinding that hole that not even Hercules himself could dig his way out of ? How reliable and honest will you appear to any juror after you spout something like that above in any courtroom ?
    Maybe the jurors aren’t as stupid as you hope to make them, except by the time the prosecution rests it’s case.
    Really, that was a doozie, you’ve got incredible talent, and unfortuantely, the jurors might notice that as well.

    SiliconDoc (da9276)

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