We’ve come up on week eight of The People v O.J. Simpson, and month eight of this increasingly insane trial. “A Jury in Jail” brings us a closer look at the 12-plus key players we often leave on the sidelines. While it’s easy to forget about the jury (in lieu of, say, more glove drama, or a workplace affair), they’re really the ones with the most power. Everything we know about O.J.’s fate could have been changed if just one of them had stuck to their “not-guilty” guns. And anybody’s attempts to control them, clearly, can backfire.
Today’s fact-check is all jury, all trial. Did 620 really kidnap his ex? Did that DNA guy shake everyone’s hands? Who is “the demon?” Get the truth on the country’s most contested peers below.
True or False: Members of the jury had their TVs removed from their rooms and weren’t allowed to use the pool.
False. The TVs were “inoperable” most hours, but not all-out removed. As for the pool, it doesn’t look like there were strict deputy-enforced rules one way or the other. But it’s definitely true that everyone was pretty bored, and had complaints about everything from their isolation to the hotel food.
True or False: During designated TV time, all the white jurors wanted to watch Seinfeld.
No mention of Seinfeld, but jurors did receive VHS tapes from Blockbuster Video (five a week!), along with exercise equipment, “brain teaser” games, and Jessica Lange’s Blue Sky. Seinfeld may have been an option, but probably not, . More likely, Crime's nod to Seinfeld is an homage to how the latter show referenced the case on more than one occasion, and later created an entire character in Cochran’s image.
True or False: A member of the jury (“620”) was arrested for kidnapping his ex.
This part is definitely true. 620, a.k.a. Michael Knox, was arrested on kidnapping charges after a “spat” with his ex, and did place bets on the final verdict. Surprisingly, the move was probably less than positive for the prosecution, who got him tossed out, because Knox was “leaning towards” a guilty verdict, and even thought that the mostly-black jury would find O.J. guilty.
True or False: Another member of the jury (“462”) lied about accusing an ex of domestic assault.
Also true! Harris also had beef with Knox, with him saying that her reports of racial tensions between jurors was part of a “self-aggrandizing, divisive agenda.”
True or False: The jury was tight with Deputy Adam.
It doesn’t look like there are any records of a Deputy Adam. So that much could be false. But at least one older black female juror had close relationships with the deputies, and said they comforted her after her sister’s death—one of those guys probably formed the basis of our mysterious, lovable “Adam.”
True or False: The defense had nicknames for jurors, like “The Demon,” “Good Times,” “Santa Claus,” and “Poker Face.”
True! At least in the case of the hotel. In order to keep their identities on the down-low (and away from the press), jurors were referred to by “code words so weird you’d never guess.” We’d guess “the demon,” and we might even be right. The defense seemed to be keeping up this same practice, according to Toobin.
True or False: The deputies gave white jurors an hour at Target and black jurors only 30 minutes at Ross.
Shopping preference was cited as complaints by jury members. You can read the transcripts of these grievances here. As for the Target v. Ross controversy, most jurors seemed OK with it, with one juror explaining: “Everybody was in agreement with that arrangement. They asked first and everybody said yeah, that would be great.” Total count: one true, one false.
True or False: The jury launched an unprecedented “juror revolt,” refusing to come in and wearing all black.
This bit of sartorial protest is true. Jurors and alternates (13 of them) were upset with the deputy changes and demanded Judge Ito meet with them, finally arriving in court wearing all-black or other dark, funeral-ish colors. Calling the revolt unprecedented is also accurate, with legal experts at the time seeming genuinely shocked.
True or False: Juror 452 took off her shoes and ran through the lunchroom screaming to get dismissed.
Sort of true, sort of false. Apparently, one juror “ran down the hotel hallway screaming, ‘I can't take it anymore’ after being separated from her boyfriend for two weeks,” but that would have been pretty early on, and also the product of a different frustration. Either way, 452, a.k.a. Tracy, was eventually dismissed.
True or False: At the time of the trial, nobody (except scientists) really knew what “DNA” was.
It might be hard to believe under the authoritarian rule of the Police Procedural, but DNA evidence wasn’t really a plot-point (on TV or otherwise) until recently. The technology was still pretty new in 1995, and jurors were easily swayed after learning about the shoddy evidence collection. We’re going with true. Either way, it would be another five years before the CSI effect took hold.
True or False: Only one in 170 million people could have matched the blood and DNA found at the scene.
Also true! A pretty damning number, but apparently not damning enough. Proof here.
True or False: The criminologist shook O.J. and the defense’s hands after stepping down.
Also true. After his testimony, Fung “vigorously shook hands with the former football star in clear view of the jurors, electrifying the courtroom,” according to the Chicago Tribune. The prosecution, obviously, wasn’t happy.
True or False: The defense put O.J. on a mock cross examination with a prosecutor who looked a lot like Marcia Clark.
Yep, this is true, too. The defense apparently found themselves a “high-powered Bay Area female lawyer” to prepare him for a potential cross with Clark.
True or False: Kardashian wanted to quit but couldn’t because of how it would look.
We can’t verify personal conversations, but as for Kardashian’s doubts on the case? True. He told Barbara Walters as much in 1996. And there’s no question it would look bad for the defense if one of their lawyers dropped out—Rob K was supposed to be O.J.’s best and most loyal friend. If he couldn’t have his back, why should anyone else?
True or False: Knowledge of the Fuhrman tapes came courtesy of the O.J. tipline.
This might have been “too good to be true” for the defense, but for us it’s true either way. It was actually a private investigator named McKenna who tracked down the tapes, but he was tipped off to them via an anonymous call from a woman named Laura. This wild stroke of luck was confirmed by McKenna to CNN at the time and (naturally) by Toobin in his own book.