CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Tensions expected to be high in and out of Simpson courtroom


October 1, 1995

From Correspondent Jim Hill


LOS ANGELES (CNN)-- On Monday, the Simpson jury will begin deliberations and go through the difficult task of wading through months of testimony and evidence. Though the jury has a wide variety of issues and information to discuss, many say the racial issue will create enormous tension in and out of the jury room.

When a buzzer sounded in court Friday, it was a signal from the jury. Sent to the jury room to elect a fore-person, they did so in minutes. What could that mean? "Either that they can reach consensus very, very quickly, or that there's one person who stands out and has everyone's confidence and respect, or it could be there's one person who's willing to do the job," said jury consultant Richard Greene.

"Has justice been done in the courtroom? We pray yes."

--- Rev. Cecil Murray.

The jury of nine African-Americans, two whites and one Hispanic has been sequestered together since January. It's first full day of deliberations Monday will be the first time the people are able to openly talk about the issues. Experts say a jury can structure deliberations any way it wants. They can go through the evidence chronologically, by theme, subject or witness-by-witness.

The strong emotions of the trial were stressed in closing arguments. Both Johnnie Cochran (50K AIFF sound or 50K WAV sound) and Marcia Clark (58K AIFF sound or 58K WAV sound) gave impassioned arguments to the jury. So there's a chance the deliberations will be heated.

"Stop this cover-up..."

---Johnnie Cochran,The Defense

"He did it..."

---Marcia Clark, The Prosecution

"There are going to be enormous battles...I think you're going to be able to hear some of the arguments within that jury room all the way down Temple Street," said Greene.

To keep a lid on tensions outside the courthouse, church leaders are making special appeals for calm. "Has justice been done in the courtroom? We pray yes," said Rev. Cecil Murray.(53K AIFF sound or 53K WAV sound)

Most surveys have shown the belief in Simpson's guilt or innocence is divided along racial lines.

A CNN-USA Today Gallup poll found 40 percent of those questioned believe racial issues will be considered by the jury. Only 24 percent believe they will not and 29 percent say racial issues will determine the verdict.

As for O.J. Simpson, he'll be spending more time in his jail cell, with fewer visitors. "Now that the trial is over as far as testimony is concerned, he will no longer have that long list of material witnesses who had access to visit him," said L.A. County Sheriff Sherman Block.

If the average person's crystal ball is any indication, the jury deliberations will be long and unsuccessful. The CNN- USA Today Gallup poll found most Americans foresee a hung jury.


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