Circus moves to Santa Monica for Simpson civil trialNovember 22, 1996
Web posted at: 11:15 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Jim Hill
SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- At 4 a.m., there were already people lining up in front of the federal courtroom. The crowd eventually grew to more than 200. All of them hoped to win a lottery drawing for one of the 16 courtroom seats reserved for the public in the O.J. Simpson civil trial. (1.1M/32 sec. QuickTime movie)
Ronni Ashcroft was one of the winners Friday. "Yes, I got in to see the trial," she said. "My number came up. Unfortunately, the bad lottery ticket was Ron Goldman's. His number never should have come up."
Just before 9 o'clock, the plaintiffs arrived. Some spectators cheered when the family of victim Ron Goldman arrived. Others shouted "gold diggers," referring to the money the Goldmans might be awarded in their wrongful death suit.
Then, O.J. Simpson emerged from a black Surburban with tinted windows. Supporters chanted, "Go, Juice, go." Detractors shouted back, "Murderer, murderer."
In the midst of the ruckus, dozens of television crews scrambled for the best shots, and some camera people took pictures of other camera people, who took pictures of still more camera people.
By the noon break, the lucky winners of the public seating lottery talked of seeing O.J. Simpson on the witness stand. "I think he sounded like a man who would do anything to save his neck," said one man.
Another winner, a woman, stood up for Simpson. "I want O.J. to know that somebody in there loves him and is praying for him," she said.
Outside the courtroom, an older man displayed a banner reading, "Ask Jesus to save you now." He told anybody who would listen, "Jesus Christ will save you. When you take him out, you took it all out."
Ever since the criminal trial, the saga of O.J. Simpson and victims Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson has drawn the offbeat, the curious and the contentious. They cheered or berated the surreal Bronco chase, pondered the missing murder weapon, sat with bated breath as the criminal case ended with a not guilty verdict.
The chanting, screaming protesters, always in front of the cameras, are perhaps appropriate for a case that, in the end, man now be associated with the word "circus."
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