Triumph of Justice is my third foray into the OJ Simpson trial, following Marcia Clark’s Without a Doubt and Jeffrey Toobin’s The Run of His Life: The People versus O.J. Simpson. Unlike those texts, Triumph of Justice focuses on Simpson’s civil trial rather than the unsuccessful criminal trial, and was penned by Daniel Petrocelli, the attorney who finally brought Simpson to justice.
It’s hard to say how complete this feels, given that my recent devouring of the previous two texts and the accompanying TV adaptation has filled my head with all manner of Simpson trivia. Then again, any reader starting with the civil rather than criminal trial almost certainly already has a decent knowledge of the background leading up to this book’s beginning. Petrocelli also introduces us to a number of Simpson and Nicole Brown’s friends and acquaintances who had little involvement with the criminal trial, which helps give a fuller sense of their relationship and the events which lead to murder.
A great deal of the book is centered on Petrocelli’s preparations for the trial and the depositions he took from key players, and at times the exhaustive detail began to feel exhausting – but by the time the trial rolls around, it really serves to highlight the number of obvious, glaring lies Simpson wove around himself, making the eventual judgement all the more satisfying. Petrocelli abstains from being overly critical of the preceding criminal trial, but it’s easy to see why the civil trial reached a different verdict. Having a judge who controlled his courtroom and refused to pander to the defense, a brevity of expert witnesses, new evidence, and above all Simpson’s own testimony all came together in a way that made the verdict almost inevitable.
Triumph of Justice may lack the almost novel-like quality of Without a Doubt, but it is a very satisfying read, and serves as a fulfilling conclusion to texts on the criminal trial. It’s certainly not a starting point, but as an ending, it’s excellent.
[Read from 12-22 June 2016]