Final Jury Composition
Selection of the Jury
The Jury Questionaire
Final Jury Composition
Some other facts about the final jury: (1) None regularly read a newspaper, but eight regularly watch tabloid TV shows, (2) five thought it was sometimes appropriate to use force on a family member, (3) all were Democrats, (4) five reported that they or another family member had had a negative experience with the police, (5) nine thought that Simpson was less likely to be a murderer because he was a professional athlete.
The racial composition of the initial jury pool differed considerably from the racial compostion of the final jury. The pool was 40% white, 28% black, 17% Hispanic, and 15% Asian.
For detailed descriptions of Simpson's jurors, jump to: Simpson
Criminal Jury or to Simpson
Selection of the Jury
The racial composition of the jury was strongly influenced by the decision of the prosecution to file the Simpson case in downtown Los Angeles rather than--as is usually the case-- in the judicial district where the crime occurred-- in this case, Santa Monica. Had the case be filed in Santa Monica, the Simpson jury would have been mostly white instead of, as was the case, mostly African-American. With poll data showing that most whites believed Simpson to be guilty and most blacks believing him to be not guilty, the decision to file the case in Santa Monica may have been the biggest mistake the prosecution made. Vincent Bugliosi, the celebrated prosecutor in the Charles Manson case, said the mistake "dwarfed anything the defense did."
Jury selection got underway on September 24, 1994 in Judge Ito's
Present that day were 250 potential members of the jury and the judge,
Simpson, and lawyers for both sides. Participating for the
in the jury selection process were attorneys Robert Shapiro and Johnnie
Cochran as well as highly respected jury consultant Jo-Ellan
The prosecution was represented by Marcia Clark and Bill Hodgman and
consultant Don Vinson. Judge Ito explained procedures to the
jury members and warned them that the trial might last several
The remark about the expected length of the trial prompted Simpson to
loudly, "Oh, God, no--my kids, my kids." Ito told jurors they
complete a 79-page, 294-question questionaire including questions
by both the prosecution and defense. In addition, they were to
a one-page "hardship" questionaire designed to determine jurors who
be intially excluded from the selection process. Potential jurors
complained about the lengthy questionaire, which took about four hours
for many people to complete. They also were overheard muttering
complaints about the personal nature of many of the
questions--questions about their beliefs concerning the causes of
domestic violence, about their feelings concerning interracial
marriages, about whether they "ever provided a urine sample to be
analyzed for any purpose."
Jury selection continued for two months. Judge Ito excluded from consideration potential jurors who violated his strict rules relating to exposure to the media. One juror was excluded for watching cartoons with her children, another for waking up to a clock radio. On October 18, Faye Resnick's book on Nicole Simpson's relationship with O. J. hit the bookstores, causing Ito to order a temporary halt to jury selection and to tell potential jurors "I forgot to tell you to stay out of bookstores."
A week later Ito dealt with another controversy, this one brought on by prosecutor Marcia Clark who had publicly complained that potential jurors were "lying" to get on the Simpson jury and that they all ought to be given lie-detector tests. Possibly seeing her remark later as potentially prejudicing jurors against the prosecution, she then asked Ito to dismiss the entire jury panel, citing "recent publicity." He refused.
During the voir dire process, each potential juror took a seat at a conference table. Also seated at the table were lawyers for both sides and Simpson--sitting not more than six feet from the people that might soon judge him. The object of voir dire, from each side's perspective, is not to get a fair jury, but rather a prejudiced one--one prejudiced in their favor. In theory, what results is a fair jury, one from which both sides have excuded potential jurors that are least likely to be sympathetic to their cause. Jurors who give answers that indicate that they have prejudged the case can be challenged for cause, others can be excluded using a limited number of peremptory challenges. Attorneys can exercise their peremptory challenges for almost any reason--body language, appearance, dissatisfaction with answers--but not for reasons of race or sex. Every challenge by the prosecution of a potential black juror caused Cochran to approach the bench and suggest that the challenge may have been racially motivated. This tactic may have worked to dissuade the prosecution from challenging some black jurors. It was no secret that the prosecution wanted white jurors and the defense wanted black jurors. Despite defense survey data suggesting that women generally made better defense jurors than men, Prosecutor Clark willingly accepted a disproportionate number of women jurors. She reportedly believed--wrongly, as it turned out--that female jurors responded well to her courtroom style. The defense's simulated jury tests had indicated that black females disliked Nicole Simpson--believing that she was irresponsibly milking money from a famous black man--and that they would also likely be hostile to a hard-edged female prosecutor such as Marcia Clark.
The defense poured great effort into the jury selection process. Consultant Dmitrius coordinated massive data on each of the jury finalists, including their answers to the questionaire, responses and body language during voir dire, and other data the defense had managed to collect. This data was put into a computer and each juror ranked according to their likely sympathy to the defense.
By November 3, an initial jury of twelve had been selected. The jury consisted of 8 blacks, 2 Hispanics, 1 half-Caucasian, half Native American, and 1 Caucasian female. Fifteen alternates were selected over the next few weeks.
On December 4, the jury was assembled and given cautionary
by Judge Ito. They were told that the trial would begin on
4, and that they could expect to be sequestered for the duration of the
Sample Jury Questions:
Simpson Trial Page