There are echoes between the notorious OJ Simpson murder trial, which appeared to cripple America in 1995, and the widely covered proceedings that are underway in a Minneapolis courthouse Monday.
Defendants who have become household names. Court TV and many other media broadcasting business live in homes across America.
But few expect so much attention around the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with the murder of a black man, George Floyd.
The reason has little to do with the legal issues involved. On the contrary, the celebrity was widely seen as the catalyst for the national fascination with the legal drama involving Mr. Simpson, a former football player and actor who was charged – and ultimately found not guilty – of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend. Ron Goldman.
“This trial is a contentious trial, a very important issue trial,” said Laurie L. Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Loyola Law School, of Mr. Chauvin’s trial. “People have taken to the streets for this matter. But there is no famous accused. There are no famous lawyers.
It is, of course, too early to know whether this trial will have one of the dramatic moments in the Simpson courtroom, as when a bloody glove presented as evidence did not appear to fit on Mr. Simpson and Johnnie Cochran, one of his attorneys, said, “If that doesn’t suit you, you have to pay.
In some ways, Ms. Levenson said, Mr. Chauvin’s trial is more similar to an earlier trial in the Los Angeles area of the 1990s, that of the white officers who beat up fellow black motorist Rodney King. But these debates were not televised. The verdict – not guilty for the police – prompted residents of South Los Angeles to rush to the streets in anger in April 1992.
Ms Levinson became a household name during the Simpson trial, serving for months of testimony and providing analysis at night on UKTN.
“I will be listening,” she said midway through the proceedings on Monday. “It was important for me to hear the opening statements, and nothing I heard surprised me. I don’t know if I’ll be listening every moment. I doubt that I am glued to my tray.