Welcome to #94.
Before I get to 94, don’t forget 4. As in, who are the 4 on your Mt. Rushmore of US Supreme Court justices? Some great responses so far!
Back to 94.
I’m a basketball guy and, to me, 94 is a basketball number. For one thing, a regulation court is 94 feet long. For another, in my eternal quest to score 100 points in a single game, I usually ended up somewhere around 94. With “somewhere around 94” meaning “points still to score to get to 100.” Semantics.
Furthermore, most of you know that this blog focuses on the law, with doses of sports & pop culture. This is particularly true of the #fiveforfriday column.
I’m not sure there’s a year in which the intersection of the law, sports, and pop culture had a more profound impact on American society than 1994.
To the extent they’re remembered at all, the 1994 NBA Finals aren’t remembered for much to do with basketball. No, I’d be willing to bet that they’re best remembered for one thing:
The OJ chase.
Game 5 of the 1994 NBA championship tipped off on June 17, 1994. The New York Knicks hosted the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden. I’ll never forget it. Earlier that day, my brother and I had driven to Bradford for our grandfather’s funeral. We got back to South Burlington just in time to watch the game at the same place we watched every other big (and not so big) game back then: the bar at the Ground Round on Williston Road, just around the corner from where we’d grown up.
We didn’t watch the game. Or maybe we watched a little bit of it, I don’t really recall. I just remember that, at some point, the bar switched to coverage of the “chase.” We stayed. Enthralled.
I won’t even begin to try to describe the night. I can’t do it justice. To jog your memory, a simple Google search returns plenty of retrospectives of the event. Suffice to say, I’ve watched a ton of basketball. There are only 2 NBA games I remember exactly where I watched. One is the OJ game.
For those of you too young to remember, I’m hard-pressed to imagine today’s equivalent of the chase. Here’s the best I can do.
In 1994, OJ was a celebrity. He’d starred in commercials for years, and had made memorable appearances in movies. He was in the NFL Hall of Fame. He was 25 years removed from being the #1 pick in the NFL draft after a decorated college career that included being named an All-American and winning the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player.
Today, Shaquille O’Neal is a celebrity. He’s starred in commercials for years, and has made memorable appearances in movies. He’s in the NBA Hall of Fame. He is 25 years removed from being the #1 pick in the NBA draft after a decorated college career that included being named an All-American and winning the Rupp Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player.
- It’d be like watching last season’s New England-Atlanta Super Bowl, only to have the game interrupted by coverage of the police “chasing” Shaq to arrest him for a double-murder,
- as a former teammate drove him around for hours,
- while Shaq streamed the entire incident via Facebook Live,
- as the rest of us stopped everything we were doing & caused the nation’s wireless networks to melt.
The chase eventually gave way to a trial, the impact of which continues to reverberate today. Even ignoring the social impact – or maybe because of the social impact – I don’t know of a trial so fixed in our collective memory.
More than 20 years later, I’m guessing that a huge number of Americans over the age of 35 can still name most of the key players – the judge, the prosecutors, the defense team, and multiple witnesses – without even having to think very hard. That never happens. I mean, I don’t remember a single witness I called in my very first jury trial and it usually takes me a few minutes to remember whether Judge Meaker or Judge Jenkins presided!! Also, is there a more widely known quote from any closing argument in history?
Finally, of the many pop culture aspects of the chase, one fascinates me: the events of the day introduced the world to the Kardashians.
Hours before the chase, and long before we’d meet his wife, kids, and his kids’ half-sisters, Attorney Robert Kardashian held a press conference. It started shortly after his client, OJ, failed to surrender by an established deadline. Kardashian read aloud a letter from OJ. Many interpreted it as OJ’s suicide note. Talk about reality tv.
Actually, maybe the chase and subsequent trial qualify as the original reality tv. Lives were taken, lost, ruined, destroyed, and forever altered. And we watched it happen.
94. A bizarre, surreal, and historic collision of law, sports, and pop culture.
If you’re interested, American Crime Story: The People v OJ Simpson dramatizes the entire case, including the chase. It won multiple Emmys and Golden Globes.
Onto the quiz.
- None. Open book, open search engine, text-a-friend.
- Exception: Question 5. We try to play that one honest.
- Unless stated otherwise, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct apply
- Team entries welcome, creative team names even more welcome.
- E-mail answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
- I’ll post the answers & Honor Roll on Monday
- Please don’t use the “comment” feature to post your answers
- Please consider sharing the quiz with friends & colleagues
- Share on social media. Hashtag it – #fiveforfriday
There is a rule that links an attorney’s duty of diligence to:
- A. Promptness
- B. Thoroughness
- C. Preparation
- D. Skill
For the purposes of Vermont’s rules, which is different from the others:
- A. A check drawn on the IORTA of a realtor licensed in Vermont
- B. A check drawn on the IOLTA of a lawyer licensed in Vermont
- C. A check in the amount of $2,500 drawn on a client’s personal checking account
- D. A check in the amount of $500,001 issued by an insurance company that is licensed to do business in Vermont
Attorney called me with an inquiry. I listened, then replied:
“For it to be okay, 3 things have to happen. (1) It has to be in proportion to services you render, or, if not, you have to agree to assume joint responsiblity for the representation; (2) the client has agree and confirm the agreement in writing; and, (3) the total has to be reasonable.”
What did Attorney call to discuss?
There is a rule that prohibits a lawyer from stating a personal opinion as to the justness of a cause, the credibility of a witness, the culpability of a civil litigant, or the guilt or innocence of an accused. It applies:
- A. In trial
- B. Only during closing arguments
- C. Only during opening statements
- D. During closing arguments AND to statements made to the press
Question 5 – Two parts:
In real life, O.J.’s attorney, Johnny Cochran, argued “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” He was referring to the so-called “bloody gloves.”
Jackie Chiles is a fictional attorney who regularly appeared on Seinfeld. The character is a parody of Johnnie Cochran. In the episode “The Caddy,” Chiles represented Kramer in a suit against Sue Ellen Mischke. Kramer alleged that Mischke’s attire, while walking down the street, so distracted him as to cause him to get into an accident. Chiles’ skillful and eminently competent cross-examination of Jerry Seinfeld delivered Kramer to the brink of a courtroom victory, only to have Kramer ruin it. Against Chiles’ advice, Kramer took his golf caddy’s advice and asked Mischke to try on the piece of clothing that, allegedly, had distracted Kramer and caused the accident. She tried it on, and it didn’t fit. So, Kramer lost.
What was the piece of clothing?
In an episode of South Park, Chef sued a record company for harassment. The record company hired a cartoon version of Johnnie Cochran. During his closing argument, cartoon Cochran inexplicably asked the jury to consider why a character from a famous series of movies would live on the planet Endor. He argued: “ladies and gentlemen, it does not make sense! If _____________ lives on Endor, you must acquit!! The defense rests.”
The movie character is 8 feet tall and has a one-word name. His co-pilot and other friends associated with the rebellion often use a shortened-version of the name. Fill in the blank with the movie character’s name.