Retired Judge Jackie Glass presided over O.J. Simpson’s 2008 Las Vegas robbery trial. She is featured in the new A&E documentary about the case, O.J.: Guilty in Vegas. Since retiring in 2011, the 61-year-old Glass has hosted a TV show and now works for a resolution management firm in Las Vegas.
The Simpson robbery case began on September 13, 2007, when Simpson and a group of other men broke into a Palace Station hotel room in Las Vegas. They were there to steal memorabilia from Bruce Fromong, a sports memorabilia dealer who testified that he was robbed at gunpoint. Three days later, Simpson was arrested and held without bail. Although he admitted his role in the robbery, he denied that anyone involved carried a weapon.
On October 3, 2008, Simpson was found guilty of 10 charges related to the robbery. Two months later, he was sentenced to 33 years and was eligible for parole after nine years, although the other men involved in the case were only sentenced to probation. On July 20, 2017, Simpson was granted parole and could be released as soon as October 1, 2017.
Glass presided over the jury trial. She also participated in another Simpson documentary, O.J. Simpson Chasing Freedom, which aired in July. She was included in the Oscar-winning O.J.: Made In America through archival footage.
Here’s what you need to know about Glass’ career and what she’s said about O.J. Simpson.
1. Glass Had a Reputation for Delivering Tough Sentences & Gave Simpson a Sentence 15 Years Longer Than What the State Recommended
Glass built a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense judge who handed out heavy sentences, the Associated Press reported before she sentenced Simpson in December 2008.
“I think she’s one of the tougher sentencing judges,” attorney Michael Cristalli told the AP at the time. “I don’t think there’s much contention about that.”
Glass showed that she had no desire to be lenient towards Simpson during the trial. She once accused him of “arrogance or ignorance or both” and doubled his bail to $250,00 after he broke the rules of his release. She refused to let Simpson and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart appear in street clothes at one hearing, forcing them to wear jail outfits instead.
When it came to sentencing Simpson, she did not treat him lightly. Even though the state parole agency suggested Simpson get at least 18 years in prison. The New York Times reports that prosecutors said they were seeking sentences of at least six years.
But Glass ignored these suggestions. Simpson’s maximum sentence was 33 years in prison and he wasn’t eligible for parole for nine years. Stewart, the only other member of Simpson’s group not to take a plea deal, was sentenced to 7.5 to 27 years. Stewart later took a plea deal and was released in January 2011.
2. Glass Said What She Learned From Simpson’s Murder Case Is You Have to Keep Control of the Courtroom
In a 2014 interview with Vegas Seven, Glass said she closely watched Simpson’s 1995 murder trial in the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. She said the one thing she learned while closely watching the trial was that she couldn’t lose control of the courtroom.
“[Simpson’s] lawyers, when they appealed Simpson’s guilty verdict in Clark County, sent video of me to the Nevada Supreme Court, because [they said] I was just so mean to them. I wasn’t mean; I was in control,” Glass said. “They knew I was that way from the first time I got assigned that case. I would have the lawyers in to do regular status checks, so that I could keep them on the schedule. I had to continue it once, but I wanted to hold firm to that trial date. So they got to know my personality long before the trial.”
Glass said she wasn’t intimidated by the Simpson robbery case when she got it. She also couldn’t refuse it because it’s difficult for judges to pass on cases. They want to look like they take on random cases. “I’m not sure I could have turned it down, and I’m not the kind of person who would have turned it down,” she explained.
She also said that she didn’t really care that the defendant was Simpson, and insisted it had no impact on her handling of the case. Glass also told Vegas Seven that she couldn’t predict where the jury was going.
3. Glass Insists That Her Long Sentence for the Robbery Wasn’t Influenced by the Murder Acquittal
Glass’ critics suggested that she handed Simpson the long sentence for robbery because of his murder acquittal. She didn’t help her case by scheduling the verdict on the exact day of 13th anniversary of the acquittal.
But she said repeatedly that this did not influence her decision. She even said this in her statement at Simpson’s sentencing hearing in December 2008.
“I have to respect what happened in the case 13 years ago with Mr. Simpson. The jury decided. There are many people that disagreed with that verdict, but that doesn’t matter to me,” Glass said at the time. “What matters to me is that the state brought charges, a trial was conducted, and evidence was heard, testimony received, the jury deliberated. They reached a verdict. And I have to respect that verdict as well.”
In March, she sent an email to Howard Stern’s radio show, defending herself.
“O.J. was convicted of many charges including multiple kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon and robbery with use of a deadly weapon charges,” the judge wrote. “There were other charges as well. The robberies and kidnappings had the weapon enhancement and O.J. could not get probation.”
Glass said she was also not asked about appearing in O.J.: Made in America, which theorized that the tough sentence was payback.
“I did not delay the trial so that the verdict would occur on the anniversary of his acquittal,” Glass told Stern. “I would have given the producers of the ESPN series a comment about their payback theory but they never asked me.”
4. Glass Hosted the TV Series ‘Swift Justice’ Until 2012
From 2011 to 2012, Glass hosted the syndicated TV series Swift Justice With Judge Glass, which was hosted by Nancy Grace in its first season. Glass only hosted the show for one season, since it was cancelled due to low ratings.
In her Vegas Seven interview, Glass said she tried to balance educating viewers on the justice system with entertainment on Swift Justice.
“They certainly want the most dramatic cases, and I had producers who brought me some really interesting material to make it dramatic,” Glass told the site in 2014. “If there was a chance to educate through that, I always took advantage of that, particularly if drugs and alcohol were involved, or domestic abuse. Those shows are extremely edited and so no matter what I did during the taping, I didn’t make the decision as to what would make it onto the show.”
Hosting the show was a return to her roots in television. Before her law career, Glass was a broadcast journalist. She has a degree from the University of Georgia and covered courts for KTNV-TV. After that, she decided to get her law degree at the University of San Diego Law School. She completed her degree in 1984.
5. She Co-Founded a Law Firm With Her Husband Steve Wolfson & Is Now a Mediator
Glass worked at their firm until 2002, when she was elected to serve as the District Court Judge of the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County. After retiring in 2011, she also worked as a mediator for Private Trials until 2015. Today, she works as a mediator and arbitrator for Advanced Resolution Management in Las Vegas.
Glass, who has two children, also lets her voice be heard on Twitter. She has over 3,000 followers.