Book Review: Anatomy of a Trial: Public Lessons Learned from The People vs. O. J. Simpson

TITLE: Anatomy of a Trial SUBTITLE: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson AUTHOR: Jerrianne Hayslett PUBLICATION DATE: December 2008 PUBLISHER: University of Missouri Press PAGE COUNT: 256 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-8262-1822-3 PRICE: $29.95
The author was the information officer and media liason for Los Angeles Superior Court during the 1995 criminal trial of Orenthal James Simpson, a retired NFL running back and actor, on charges of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend in June of the previous year. Hayslett examines how an ordinary felony murder trial was turned into a public spectacle of excessive and outrageous proportions by the outlandish and, at times unprofessional, conduct of prosecutors, defense attorneys and, unfortunately, the presiding judge, Lance Ito. As she was present daily both in the courtroom and Ito’s chambers, the author delivers an insider’s account of how the judge went from a paragon of judicial stature and competence to a celebrity aspirant devoid of talent or stage skill. Frequently criticizing the judge for being too deferential to the demands of Simpson’s attorneys, Hayslett provides more than just a captivating tale of an aberrational trial and its consequences. Her account includes an essential blueprint for what the media and judges can do in the future to avoid sideshows and to fulfill their responsibilities to the public. Recommended for public, academic, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

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