O.J. Simpson’s attorney, Alan Dershowitz was part of the Dream Team that made history.
Charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, Simpson was acquitted on the murder charges but lost a $33.5 million judgment in civil court for the deaths of Brown and Goldman.
Dershowitz joined Robert Shapiro, F.Lee Bailey, Robert Kardashian, Gerald Uelmen, Carl E. Douglas and Johnnie Cochran in the case many dubbed the Trial of The Century.
Dershowitz once wittingly said: “The defendant wants to hide the truth because he’s generally guilty. The defense attorney’s job is to make sure the jury does not arrive at that truth.”
Always opinionated, I chatted with Dershowitz on Scoop B Radio about race.
Dershowitz explains his feelings on representing African Americans in the courtroom over his career particularly during the O.J. Simpson case where race was a previaling theme.
Did race hinder or hurt Dershowitz in representing Simpson both professionally or personally?
“Personally not at all,” Dershowitz tells me on Scoop B Radio.
“It was a very important case it was a case that told us a lot about the racial situation in America. When I got into the case he was facing the death penalty.”
“Over my long career I’ve represented lots and lots of African American people; both defendants and others. I was in the Civil Rights Movement, I was down south in the early 60s. So that, part of it was very easy for me. For me the biggest thrill was having the chief counsel on the case being an African American and having all these white lawyers really working for a really brilliant, terrific, African American lawyer.”
The African American lawyer Dershowitz was referring to was the late Johnnie Cochran.
In his closing arguments in the Simpson trial, Cochran famously stated: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
“He really was in charge,” Dershowitz said of Cochran.
“That sent a powerful message to people watching. That also sent a powerful message to the jury. So I had worked with lots and lots of African American lawyers before, but this is a case where some of the world’s prominent white lawyers in the country, F. Lee Bailey, Bob Shapiro, Barry Scheck were all working for our leader who was an African lawyer, he was the leader, Johnnie Cochran.”
Cochran was the only attorney in Los Angeles ever to receive both the “Civil Trial Lawyer of the Year” Award and the “Criminal Trial Lawyer of the Year” Award. In 1995, he was named “America’s Trial Lawyer of the Year” by The National Law Journal, as well as being named one of the “Headliners of the Year” by Time magazine.In 1999, he was named one of the “Top 50 Trial Attorneys of 1999” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Dershowitz is currently a Harvard Law professor. He’s penned books like: The Best Defense (1982), Chutzpah (1991), The Advocate’s Devil (1994), Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000 (2001), The Case for Israel (2003) and Taking a Stand: My Life in the Law (2013).