As seen on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, O.J. Simpson’s trial was a little bit (OK, a lot) of a spectacle. A media storm engulfed everyone involved, from the police to the prosecution to the defense and of course, Simpson himself. An item also found itself at the center of the storm: a pair of gloves. Since they get some more attention on the FX series, let's talk about why the gloves were so important to the O.J. Simpson trial, and how they affected it going forward.
According to NBC Los Angeles, in the initial investigation, police said that they found a blood-covered glove at the scene of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman’s murders, Brown Simpson's home. Later, LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman allegedly scaled a wall to get into Simpson’s property, where he found what he thought was a match to the first bloody glove. As reported by USA Today, "DNA tests showed blood on glove found on Simpson's property appeared to contain genetic markers of Simpson and both victims." The gloves may have seemed like solid pieces of DNA evidence linking Simpson to the crime scene, however, it wasn’t as simple as the prosecution may have hoped.
As reported by the CNN, the defense alleged that Fuhrman is racist and planted the glove at Simpson's home in an attempt to frame him for the murders. During the trial, Fuhrman was asked both if he had used racial slurs, which he denied, and also if he had tampered with evidence, to which he evoked his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
A year later, according to the Chicago Tribune, Fuhrman plead no contest to perjury, which is not an admission of guilty, because he had denied using racial slurs on the stand and recordings of him saying the n-word multiple times were discovered. In his 1997 book Murder in Brentwood, Fuhrman apologized for his "insensitive words" and also said, "However, one thing I will not apologize for is my policework on the Simpson case. I did a good job; I did nothing wrong." But because Fuhrman's integrity was questioned during the trial, so was the integrity of the evidence he found. If a jury could believe that Fuhrman planted the glove, it discredited that glove as a piece of evidence.
The importance of the gloves didn't end with Fuhrman. As reported by ABC News, the prosecution requested that Simpson try on the gloves for the jury. When they did not fit Simpson’s hand, defense attorney Johnnie Cochran uttered the now famous words: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." While that was not the only reason Simpson was eventually acquitted of both murders, this moment was a huge part of the trial. The ill-fitting gloves coupled with the allegations of racism within the police and everything else presented to the jury gave them enough reasonable doubt to deliver a “not guilty” verdict. Who would think that gloves could help change the course of history?