The OJ Simpson Case and What Came After

OJ Simpson, football star, actor, pitchman, and almost certainly the murderer of two human beings, died of cancer earlier this month. Whether or not you remember where you were when the 'not guilty' verdict was read, you live in a world that was at least incrementally changed by the country's experience of the events leading up to it and what came after. The following is one blogger's experience of growing up in the wake of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman and some of the ways the OJ trial changed the media and pop-cultural landscapes.

My mother was mere weeks away from marrying my father when O.J. Simpson and his famous white Ford Bronco sped down L.A.‘s 405 Freeway.

She described it as being one of those moments where time stops because you simply can’t believe your eyes. Why did he feel the need to run away? Was that highway chase his admission of guilt? Many believed so.

In fact, that moment may have been what made the O.J. Simpson trial arguably the most famous in history. Because of it, my mother and the world at large remained on the edge of their seats through October 3, 1995, the day of the acquittal heard ‘round the world. On that day, I was nearly 6 months old and had spent those formative months being lulled to sleep by my mother’s exasperated reactions to the events unfolding on our television screen and the late Robert Kardashian’s voice.

Fast forward 16 years

I would hear from my friends at school that Kim Kardashian had lost a diamond earring whilst swimming in French Polynesia, and it was “totally tragic.”

I’ll be honest and admit I’ve never grasped the appeal of the Kardashians and yet, will find myself tuning into episodes of their reality television shows once in a blue moon. I know about the lost earring, Momager Kris, and any time Scott Disick said anything absurd, which was all the time, and somebody threw a purse at somebody else.

Back when I lived in Colorado after graduating from college, I was sitting at a restaurant I frequented and when I looked up from my menu, there sat O.J. Simpson a few tables down from me. People were lined up to snap selfies with the retired NFL Running Back, actor, and criminal/probable murderer. He was smiling.

The 30-Year Hangover: After-affects of the OJ Trial

The OJ Trial and its aftermath affected my life in small but strangely personal ways, but its after-effects really have changed our world in some surprisingly profound ways.

The Kardashians

Robert Kardashian was a relatively minor character in the OJ saga, but his daughters managed to transform his blip of fame into a lasting dynastic celebrity without much talent beyond a keen eye for the changing landscape of American media and the brains to capitalize on its financial opportunities.

The Kardashians

Kardashian Dynasty


Without OJ, we might not have Law & Order:SVU or CSI and all of its spinoffs, or if we did, their writers would have had to work a lot harder for resolutions to their cases. DNA was being used in court prior to OJ, but it was a new enough concept that the prosecution team in the OJ trial brought in experts to explain what it is and how it works as evidence. Granted, they still do this today, but many, many more people have a good general grasp of it than they did in 1995. The scale of OJ news coverage accelerated the acceptance of DNA as almost foolproof evidence in US courts (though, of course, it failed to sway the twelve OJ jurors).

DNA has put many people behind bars who should be there, but just as importantly, through things like the Innocence Project, it has exonerated hundreds who were wrongly convicted. OJ was not one of them.


Court TV and True Crime Entertainment

Court TV first went on the air in 1991, but it became must-watch TV in 1994 with the first trial of Lyle and Eric Menendez for the murders of their parents, then hit terminal velocity with its wall-to-wall coverage of the OJ Trial. If you were alive and cognizant of the trial, you will remember the endless hashing and rehashing of the evidence and testimony in breakrooms, on mass transit, and over dinner tables across the country. The ebb and flow of the trial was a spectator sport in a way that none before it had been. The brutal murders of two people were all but forgotten in the constant coverage of the tactical, chess-game aspects of defense and prosecution despite the best, often heart-wrenching, efforts of the victims' families and friends. 

The true crime genre certainly existed before the OJ trial, but the true crime culture of today, with its hundreds of podcasts picking over the same crime scenes, the Facebook groups and subreddits, and forensic files-style docutainment, got its start with the OJ case.

Forensic Files


Books and DVDs about the Murders and Trial

American Crime Story


The Run of His Life

The Truth About the O.J. Simpson Trial

O.J. Is Innocent and I Can Prove It! 

Some of the Players who Turned Their Roles in the OJ saga into lasting fame and/or cash

Christopher Darden, co-prosecutor | Marcia Clark, lead prosecutor | Mark Fuhrman, LAPD detective| Nancy Grace, attorney and courtroom commentator | Dominick Dunne, celebrity crime reporter & commentator | Barry Scheck, member of the "dream team" defense and director of the Innocence Project |

additional material by davec