Posted on | October 7, 2008 | By David Linn | 1 Comment
In the Fall of 1995, I was employed at a small civil defense law firm on Wall Street. It was Aseres Yemei Teshuvah and OJ Simpson was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. On October 3rd, the news broke that the jury had reached its verdict. Most of us at the firm were huddled into a small corner office where we kept the television that we would use to view surveillance videotapes.
There were myriad reasons why everyone in the office was interested in watching the verdict. Some of us were sports fans who had grown up watching OJ’s Hall of Fame career as a running back for the Buffalo Bills. Others were interested in the racial perspective of the case which seemed to be polarizing the nation. Still others, as lawyers, were interested in watching the judicial system in action with some of the nation’s top lawyers at work. I think that for others (and perhaps for all of us) it was reality tv writ large. Some of these reasons engendered my interest as well. But there was something else. Something more. It was erev Yom Kippur and I couldn’t help associating myself with OJ, as loathsome as I found him. He, like me, was awaiting his verdict. I watched with earnestness as OJ waited for the jury to enter. I wondered, what must be going through his mind? What does a person think about when his life hangs in the balance? How did it feel to know that the decision was imminent? How could he stand to just sit there and wait for his verdict?! And how could I? I, too, was awaiting my verdict as that evening began the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgment.
OJ was eventually acquitted and his acquittal became the symbol of a system gone awry. I didn’t have much interest in the aftermath of the acquittal and the subsequent civil trial. Life moved on.
It’s now Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, thirteen years later and it’s deja vu all over again. I find myself once again struggling with some of the same issues I had struggled with back then. Thirteen years to the day on the Gregorian calendar, OJ is again faced with a jury verdict that will decide his fate for the rest of his life. I can’t help but wonder how this guy who barely escaped a severe verdict last time could be so stupid as to place himself in such a precarious situation yet again. And then, I find myself doing it again. I’m associating myself with OJ once more. I know some of you are thinking that I’m hyperbolizing. I know. It’s true that I never killed anyone or committed armed robbery. But I can’t help but think that I sometimes don’t take these things seriously enough and maybe I need something a bit more concrete to bring the point home.
This time, OJ was convicted. He could go to prison for the rest of his life. Most people think that he got what was coming to him after skating last time. I’m not interested in all that. I’ve got some heavy work to do and only a few days left in which to do it. The court that I’ll be appearing before doesn’t make mistakes and if I’ve been given yet another opportunity, I’ve got to take it seriously.
Gmar Chasima Tovah