Dream Team (law)

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The "Dream Team" refers to the team of trial lawyers that represented O.J. Simpson in his trial for the murder of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The team included Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, Barry Scheck, F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Gerald Uelmen, Carl Douglas, and Peter Neufeld.

The "Dream Team" lawyers[edit]

Robert Shapiro[edit]

Robert Shapiro joined Simpson's defense team shortly after the beginning of the trial, when Howard L. Weitzman withdrew from the case stating his workload was too heavy to continue as chair.[1] As defense chair, Shapiro was called the "architect" of the Simpson defense for building the high-profile legal team that would later be dubbed the "Dream Team."[2] Shapiro led the defense team through much of the trial before Johnnie Cochran took over as the lead chair.

Shapiro is the co-founder of RightCounsel.com[3] and is a senior partner in the Los Angeles-based law firm Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro, LLP.[4] He also co-founded LegalZoom.[5]

Johnnie Cochran[edit]

Cochran joined the Simpson defense team and later took over as its chair, during the trial. In his closing arguments, Cochran famously uttered the phrase, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," referencing the fact that the glove the prosecutors alleged Simpson wore during the murder did not fit Simpson's hand.

Cochran was diagnosed with a brain tumor in December 2003 and subsequently died in his home in Los Angeles, on March 29, 2005.[6]

Robert Kardashian[edit]

Robert Kardashian was a close friend of Simpson. In fact, Simpson stayed in Kardashian's house to avoid the media while the investigations and subsequent media fallout concerning the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman unfolded. When Simpson failed to turn himself in on June 17, 1994, Kardashian read a letter written by Simpson to the media that had assembled outside of his house.

Kardashian ended up reactivating his license to practice law, which he had let lapse prior to the Simpson case, to join Simpson's defense team.

Kardashian was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in July 2003. He died at the age of 59 on September 30, 2003.[7]

Barry Scheck[edit]

Barry Scheck, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, is a forensic and DNA evidence expert. He joined the "Dream Team" to help them harness the power of forensic and DNA evidence to assist in Simpson’s defense.

Scheck is also known for his work as co-founder and co-director of the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization that uses DNA evidence to clear the names of wrongfully convicted inmates.[8]

F. Lee Bailey[edit]

F. Lee Bailey joined the defense team before the preliminary hearing and handled many of the defense team’s press conferences. Bailey’s most notable contribution to the defense was his cross-examination of LAPD investigator Mark Fuhrman.[9]

In a press conference leading up to his cross-examination of Fuhrman, Bailey said, "any lawyer in his right mind who would not be looking forward to cross-examining Mark Fuhrman is an idiot." During the cross-examination, Bailey was able to get Fuhrman to plead the Fifth in response to key aspects of the case, including planting evidence, thereby undermining Fuhrman’s credibility as a witness. This cross-examination is believed by many to be one of the keys to Simpson’s acquittal.[citation needed]

Carl Douglas[edit]

Douglas was widely considered one of Johnnie Cochran's top lawyers. He later became the managing attorney of the Law Office of Johnnie Cochran, Jr. before leaving the firm in 1998, to form The Douglas Law Group (now known as Douglas / Hicks Law).[10]

Peter Neufeld[edit]

Peter Neufeld joined the Simpson defense team to assist with undermining the prosecution’s DNA and forensic evidence. He is perhaps best known for discrediting the credibility of the blood trail between Nicole Brown Simpson's body and O.J. Simpson's car.[11]

Neufeld is a co-founder of the Innocence Project, along with fellow "Dream Team" member Barry Scheck.[12] Neufeld is currently a partner at Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP in New York.[13]

Gerald F. Uelmen[edit]

Gerald Uelmen was part of O.J. Simpson's defense team during the O.J. Simpson murder case. Uelmen says he devised the memorable line used by Johnnie Cochran in the closing argument, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Uelmen is currently a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, where he served as Dean from 1986-1994. He served as defense counsel in the trials of Daniel Ellsberg and Christian Brando. In 2006, he was appointed Executive Director for the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, created by the California State Senate to examine the causes of wrongful convictions and propose reforms of the California criminal justice system.

Verdict[edit]

On October 3, 1995, at 10:00 a.m, after four hours of deliberation, the jury found Simpson not guilty on both murder counts. News of the verdict had a disruptive effect in the United States and abroad, as an estimated 100 million people worldwide watched or listened to the verdict announcement.[14]

Before the verdict was read, President Bill Clinton was briefed on potential security measures, in case rioting occurred following the announcement.[15] The United States Supreme Court received a note documenting the verdict, which the justices passed to each other while listening to the oral arguments of the case at hand.[15]

Portrayal in film and television[edit]

The Dream Team's success has been portrayed in multiple documentaries and docudramas.

  • In 1995, Fox premiered the TV movie The O.J. Simpson Story.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mydans, Seth (June 16, 1994). "Lawyer for O. J. Simpson Quits Case". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Barbara Walters Interview". ABC.
  3. ^ "Why Us". RightCounsel.
  4. ^ "Robert Shapiro". Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro, LLP.
  5. ^ "Seven Questions with Robert Shapiro, Attorney and Co-Founder of LegalZoom". LAist. July 17, 2008. Retrieved October 26, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Flashy, Deft Lawyer Known Worldwide". Los Angeles Times. March 30, 2005. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  7. ^ "Robert Kardashian." The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/oct/06/guardianobituaries.usa. Retrieved on October 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "About". Innocence Project.
  9. ^ "How can People be Held in Contempt After Invoking the 5th Amendment?". Today I Found Out. January 24, 2014.
  10. ^ "O.J. Simpson trial: Key attorneys". CNN. CourtTV. March 31, 2005.
  11. ^ "The Age of Innocence: Neufeld's DNA Crusade Rolls On". Observer. March 2004.
  12. ^ "About". Innocence Project.
  13. ^ "Peter Neufeld". nsbcivilrights.com.
  14. ^ Dershowitz, Alan M. (2004). America on Trial: Inside the Legal Battles that Transformed our Nation. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-446-52058-4.
  15. ^ The O.J. Simpson Story. 20th Century Fox TV. 1995.
  16. ^ "The People v. OJ Simpson Cast and Their Real-Life Counterparts". Retrieved 9 September 2016.