The Jury as a Door-Opener to Race in O.J. Simpson’s Criminal Trial

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Lee, Ja-Young
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서울대학교 미국학연구소
미국학, Vol.33 No.2, pp. 119-142
Jury SystemO.J. SimpsonRacismJudicial ProcessChange of VenueJury SelectionJuror Dismissal
The purpose of this paper is to analyze O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial to provide an understanding of how America’s jury system works to introduce race-relations in court. The focus thus lies on how the jury system worked to shift a question of guilt and innocence into a question that inevitably included a racial aspect.

In a review of the jury as a political organ, the paper attempts to point out that the workings of America’s jury, unlike those of judge-made law, include a decision-making process that is more politically influenced than judicially shaped. Especially highlighted is the fact that the jury serves to decide upon the majority will concerning a defendant’s guilt, but that in doing so, the differences among by America’s racial majorities and minorities are inevitably called into question. This is further exemplified at the stage of deciding the venue of the trial, the jury selection process, and the juror dismissals.

At the stage of relocating the venue of the trial, O.J. Simpson’s lawyers decided to waive their right to a change of venue. This is contrasted with the case of Rodney King and explained by the fact that the venue directly relates to the racial build-up of the jury. Similarly, the jury selection process further is analyzed to indicate that the jury system is expressly being used as a tool to introduce race. Lastly, the frequent dismissals that occurred during the O.J. Simpson trial are further interpreted to relate to racial interests.
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Researcher Institutes (연구소)American Studies Institute (미국학연구소)미국학미국학 Volume 33 Number 1/2 (2010)
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