A year later, Simpson was on trial once more, this time a civil suit brought by Ron Goldman’s father against Simpson. This time, he lost and was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages. This was due to the fact that in a civil suit, a defendant cannot plead the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify. Also, the burden of proof in a civil action is much lower than in a criminal case.
Simpson paid a tiny percentage of the ordered damages. His house was repossessed and sold but he was practically bankrupt from the lawyers’ fees and owed back taxes and mortgage repayments. His NFL pension could not be touched by the courts. He also moved to Florida and under Floridian law, his earnings could not be seized to pay the damages awarded against in the civil trial.
The OJ criminal trial underlined how media-driven certain cases in America could become. Cases like van Bulow and OJ Simpson only serve to highlight the importance not only of an astute attorney versed in the law and the mechanics of the legal system but also of a shrewd manipulator of the media. The defence team served its purpose while earning large amounts of money. They cast doubt on the prosecution’s evidence and fought tooth and nail to confuse the jury that they had practically selected to be as favourable to their client as possible. The theatrics of Cochran, the incisiveness of Dershowitz and the canny erudition of Neufeld and Scheck all contributed to save Simpson, in the face of almost overwhelming forensic evidence, from years in prison.