Attorney Jason Beahm answers your questions about FX: The People v. O.J. Simpson:
What is your favorite scene to date?
– Alan Dershowitz sending a fax from a Harvard Law classroom while he is teaching criminal defense. The fax is received in the courtroom in LA and utilized by Johnnie Cochran. I’ve spoken to many people about this scene, and I’m not sure most people grasp the significance that this kind of coaching could provide. Real time legal counsel was being provided to Simpson not only in California, but from Massachusetts via fax machine, back in 1994.
Have you seen any “Legal fictions” or embellishments of the legal process? Is the show accurate from the legal perspective?
– Definitely have seen some embellishment. It would be weird for the show to truly reflect life, as it is a TV drama.Yes, they’ve sensationalized the trial, leaving out moments that are not as dramatic. Trial of the century or not, most of it was dry and boring. Court tends to be a lot more waiting around than landing haymakers in front of the jury. The show captures the big moments well. It’s relatable in a way that feels unique.
-One of things that jumps out to me is attorneys making arguments during the questioning of witnesses. This is something that isn’t allowed in court. You will frequently see a lawyer shift from questioning a witness to making arguments, which are only appropriate for closing. This happens quite often on shows like Law & Order and I’ve noticed it on The People vs O.J. Simpson as well.
Is the show Accurate?
-Overall, yes. It captures the major themes and highlights some areas that were not thought of as significant at the time. In the last episode where the jury was sequestered, and the pressure that puts on them. Also the significance of the racial divide between the jurors.
– There was a scene in the most recent episode about eliminating jurors for cause. Prosecution wants white jurors, defense wants black jurors. At one point, jurors are being eliminated at a pace that causes both sides to worry about a mistrial, which leads to a scene where Johnie Cochrane brings Marcia Clark a coffee as a way of declaring a truce. There was something about this scene that resonated with me. So often it’s moments like this that can decide cases just as much as what happens in the courtroom.
Was Shapiro trying on the glove during the brief recess legally significant? Do defense lawyers get to handle physical evidence like that?
-Most evidence is kept clean, so to speak, uncontaminated. But I’ve seen attorneys manipulate objects in their hand. While it strikes me as odd, the main point is that Shapiro did try the gloves on, and there was nothing improper about it, but the fact that he saw a difference between the original gloves and the duplicates is debatably very significant.
Was AC’s driving OJ’s Bronco a crime?
– Potentially. At one time I recall there was a possibility that AC was going to be charged. He could have been considered an accessory after the fact, aiding a fugitive, reckless driving, felony evading, and several other crimes. Apparently Simpson had a gun to his head during at least some of the time that AC was driving, which led the district attorney to drop the case over a lack of evidence.