OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony: Court of Public Opinion, Race and the Media

In the most sensationalized case since the O. J. Simpson murder trial, Casey Anthony sat in a courtroom on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 and was cleared of murdering her 2 year old daughter Caylee Anthony. I followed the verdict via Twitter simply because it’s convenient and I enjoy the 140 character thoughts. Just like everyone else in the nation, I had my own opinions of Casey Anthony, her demeanor, her bizarre behavior after her child was reported missing and how I thought that this case would play out. I was also reminded of a day, a little over 15 years ago, when I had similar thoughts, premonitions and opinions about O. J. Simpson and the then “Trial of the Century”.




On October 3, 1995, Orenthal James Simpson was cleared of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. There was a severe racial divide in the reactions. Being a college freshman at a predominantly white university allowed me a rare view into the anger of White America when the verdict was announced. There was yelling, screaming, cursing, crying, racial slurs and denouncements of the legal system. Everyone absolutely knew that O. J. Simpson was guilty of murder and by everyone, I mean most White people. Black America felt very differently. There was joy, hugs, tears, feelings of vindication because O. J. Simpson, the Black athlete, was not convicted of killing his White wife and her boyfriend. Every single one of those reactions were for the wrong reasons. As I read the tweets about the Casey Anthony not guilty verdict, I knew that it was a matter of time before someone brought race into the discussion and I wasn’t disappointed. For the sake of not creating drama, I won’t use names but someone tweeted, “If Casey Anthony were Black this verdict would have been different”. Here we go again.








I consider myself enlightened. I understand how the justice system works. I don’t judge people based on race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, tattoos, language spoken, height, eye color, favorite sports team….well….maybe that but that’s not the point. I try my best to not judge but with the emergence of social media and instant access to everyone’s very thoughts, feelings and opinions, I am beginning to feel as if I’m in the minority. In both the O. J. Simpson case and the Casey Anthony case, both defendants were tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. Both were guilty until proven innocent. In both cases, O.J. and Casey’s skin color seemed to be the biggest pieces of evidence for those that wanted a guilty verdict. Nothing else mattered. The debacle that the Los Angeles Police Department created by not following proper procedures, the tampering with of evidence by Los Angeles personnel, the circumstantial evidence, and conversely, the matching hair, blood and gloves found in both Nicole and O.J.’s homes and cars, that mishandling of the blood samples likely saved O. J. of being convicted and matching bloody footprints could not contend with supporting “our own”.










Casey Anthony was (un)lucky enough to be tried in the age of social media. Not only could the support or anger of the masses be discussed at lunch, watercoolers and cell phones but it was Facebooked, Tweeted, Tumblrd, Touted, texted and instant messaged. That’s in addition to the constant, biased media coverage…..Nancy Grace anyone? Can you imagine what it would have been like had social media existed during the O. J. Simpson trial? More than 15 years later, there is still such anger surrounding the O. J. Simpson verdict and the Casey Anthony trial is similar enough that when Kim Kardashian tweeted, “WHAT!!!???!!! CASEY ANTHONY FOUND NOT GUILTY!!!! I am speechless!!!” one of her followers replied with, “So was Nicole Brown Simpson’s family when your dad got OJ off”. I can’t even follow that with a snide comment.

At the end of the day, we must trust that our legal system functions as intended. We must accept the decisions that juries are tasked with making and move on. Most importantly we must be intelligent and progressive enough to form opinions without race being the primary factor. It’s my hope for our future.

6 thoughts on “OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony: Court of Public Opinion, Race and the Media

  • Yes, a lot people on black blogs and message boards are boldly proclaiming that if Casey was black, she would’ve definitely been found guilty of all charges. But somebody else smartly rebutted that if Casey was black, this trial would’ve never gotten nearly the amount of media coverage it has. I tend to agree with that notion, but that’s another issue altogether.

    It’s indeed true that race likely factored into why many people were absolutely irate when OJ got off back in ‘94. Race will always be a factor to some degree when a trial involves a minority (particularly African-Americans). But at the same time, I believe that if you were a white person who was deeply upset about the ‘not guilty’ OJ verdict, that did not necessarily mean you were a racist who believed OJ must’ve have been guilty solely because he’s black. There are many people out there who get emotionally invested in highly sensationalized cases, and some of them actually do care about justice being served regardless of the plaintiff and/or defendant’s skin color. It’s possible that many of those people were upset that OJ was able to walk despite the mountain of evidence that pointed to him as the killer.

    We all know that many black people enthusiastically celebrated OJ’s acquittal because they viewed the verdict as a victory for all black people who were frequently screwed over by the American judicial system. In their eyes, it was simply a black person finally beating the system and not having the system beat a black person for once. Whether any of those black folks were ever on trial for anything or not, they were pleased at the verdict simply due to OJ being black like them even though Simpson never really was considered part of the black community due to his life-long silence on social issues that affected African-Americans.

    I’ve always believed that justice should always be blind. And that includes blind to skin color, nationality, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, etc. But in reality, we all know that justice has not and will not be completely blind to all those things. We are judged by other people–and people are imperfect with their own biases and prejudices to some degree. With that said, I still think the United States has the best legal system in the world. Can anyone name another country that has a better one?

  • Although I understand the point of your article, I would strongly disagree. Casey Anthony is ridiculously guilty. I wrote a write-up on my blog showing how Casey Anthony got away with murder. Here’s the link. If Casey Anthony was black this case would not have garnered media attention. Stuff like this happens all the time. Here’s a link to the article on her trial.


    • I cannot argue her guilt. Do I believe that she had a role in her daughter’s death? Yes. Do I stand on that side based on race? No and that’s where people lose me.

  • You guys can at least use relevant pictures for this write up when making reference to the OJ Criminal Case. I see only one picture from verdict day. Remember that the techincal legal language is that OJ was found NOT GUILTY of double murder. A jury doesn’t “clear” anyone, a jury votes guilty or not guilty on each count. His Dream Team of Lawyers were able to pick apart the “mountain of evidence” against him and created doubt about that evidence, including the mishandling of blood, etc, coupled with the “racially slurred” past of former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman who “found” the bloody glove. In the big picture, there are few, if any, real comparisons between the Anthony case and the OJ DOUBLE MURDER Trial. Race, sex, class and wealth and celebrity as well as police bias were among the elements involved throughout OJ. The Anthony trial is simply about a young, free-wheeling, careless, selfish Mother who misled Investigators about the location of her missing child, whose homicide (or murder?) remains unsolved. Casey Anthony was found NOT GUILTY of first degree murder– but she hasn’t been “cleared” not in the eyes of public scorn. In the end, she’ll have to face responsiblity in God’s eyes — and the sad, horrible memory of her dead daughter.

    • You’re splitting hairs and playing a semantics game. A jury clears in their trial. The race issue was about the supporters and opponents of both Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson. There is a significant racial divide here as evidenced by the immediate reactions that I witnessed post the OJ Simpson trial and the comments made via social networking.

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