Did O.J. Simpson's Defense Really Redecorate His House? These Lawyers Weren't Messing Around
So far, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story has gone back and forth between the prosecution and defense, showing how each team of lawyers built their case and attempted to disprove the other. In Tuesday's episode "The Race Card," you'll see defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran redecorate O.J. Simpson's house before the jury visits. Pictures of half-nude models are replaced by friendly pictures of family members as large pieces of African art are hung on the walls. It all seems a little over-the-top, likely making you wonder, did Simpson's defense team really redecorate his house during the case?
According to one member of the defense team, the answer is yes. Defense attorney Carl Douglas said in Dateline NBC's special THE PEOPLE vs. OJ SIMPSON: What the Jury Never Heard that he organized a redecoration of Simpson's estate before the jury visited. In the interview, part of which is shown below, Douglas said his intention was to make the estate look "lived-in and stand with all of its regalness so that the jurors would say 'O.J. Simpson would not have risked all of this for this woman.'" The special described the changes made to the home, saying, “photos of Simpson with white women were swapped out for pictures of him with black people. A Norman Rockwell painting from Johnnie Cochran’s office and a bedside photo of Simpson’s mother were placed in prominent view."
The jury also visited Nicole Brown Simpson's house, which looked far more like a typical, emptied crime scene, and "viewed the walkway where the two bodies were found, an area where the pools of blood have long since been washed away," according to the New York Times. This contrast between the two homes is also reflected on American Crime Story.
However, the series did change something in its depiction of the jury visits: the placement of the statue of O.J. Simpson that resided on his property. On the show, the statue is still clearly displayed for jurors to see, but according to the New York Times, it had been in the garage and Judge Ito said, "We can toss a sheet over [the statue]."
Douglas explained how this was permitted in his Dateline interview, saying "this is not tampering with evidence, no, this is simply making his house presentable, like washing the floors." The reasoning for this was simple, as Douglas said, "I’m trying to get the optimum advantage to win. They play hard ball in the big leagues. This was the big leagues."