[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.