Simpson says he and Blake subjected to double jeopardy
LOS ANGELES (AP) — O.J. Simpson on Friday questioned the system that allowed both him and actor Robert Blake to be found liable for murder after being acquitted in criminal court, calling it "double jeopardy."
"I still don't get how anyone can be found not guilty of a murder and then be found responsible for it in any way shape or form," Simpson said in a phone interview from his Florida home. "... If you're found not guilty, how can you be found responsible? I'd love to hear how that's not double jeopardy."
Simpson said he had no opinion about Blake's guilt or innocence in the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, because he did not follow either trial closely.
Simpson said Blake was subjected to an unfair system in which a civil jury can essentially reverse a criminal jury's finding by using a lesser standard of proof in which jurors need be convinced only by "a preponderance of the evidence," meaning at least 51%.
"If that was the standard in criminal trials, only 51%, then so many people would be convicted that we'd have to build more jails," Simpson said. "The standard is the difference."
Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, then was sued in civil court where a jury found him liable for their deaths and awarded damages of $33.5 million. In Blake's case, the jury awarded $30 million, a figure Simpson said was suspiciously similar.
"It was too coincidental," he said.
In both trials, he said, lawyers were aware that the acquitted defendants were out of money and would not be able to pay the damages. Blake has said he's broke and owes money to the Internal Revenue Service. Before the trial began, Blake tried to settle with the family for $250,000, which he said was the remainder of his once-large fortune. They rejected the offer.
Simpson, a former football star at the University of Southern California and in the NFL, moved to Florida where he lives on a pension that is untouchable to satisfy court judgments.
"Trust me," Simpson said. "I'm happy with my life. I'm not complaining."
Simpson said he hopes that someone eventually will go the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the system that allows double trials.
"I'd love to see the Supreme Court rule on one of these cases," he said. He also noted that a defendant must have the money to post a bond to appeal the judgment, which is usually beyond their financial ability.
Asked if he had any advice for Blake, he said, "If Robert Blake has friends and family around him, he'll do fine. I would give him the same advice I gave Michael (Jackson). You've got your kid. Go and raise your kid."
He added, "To me, the thing that's most disturbing is to watch these lawyers grand standing. It's all for TV and for the book deals. I predict they will make a book deal. They did it in my case."