What Is Judge Lance Ito Doing Now? Post-O.J. Simpson Trial, He's Stayed Out Of The Limelight
Pretty much everyone involved with the O.J. Simpson trial gained some bit of notoriety — Judge Lance Ito today, though, has preferred to keep himself out of the limelight. According to NBC News, after the O.J. Simpson trial, Ito just wanted to go back and live his life. So, what is he doing now, and how does he view his place in history’s most famous murder trial? (Simpson was acquitted. However, according to The New York Times, he was found guilty in the resulting 1997 civil suit and ordered to pay "$25 million in punitive damages to the families.")
Ito’s involvement with the O.J. Simpson case was not without controversy. As reported by Variety, lawyers, judges, and law scholars alike were furious that Ito decided to let television cameras film the trial proceedings in Ito’s courtroom, arguing that it would turn trials into media circuses. Interestingly enough, as reported by NBC News, Ito was constantly frustrated with the press during the trial — even though he had essentially invited them into his courtroom. Ito’s complicated relationship with the press has always fascinated me — I really don’t think he understood the impact that it would have on the American judicial system. In a guise of transparency and the right for the public to know what was going on with the trial, Ito ushered in a whole new kind of television, paving the way for channels like Court TV.
According to Time magazine, 150 million eyes watched O.J. Simpson be acquitted of murder on October 3, 1995 — more than half of the United States at the time. How could it even be possible for Ito to go back to his normal life after that? Well, he sure tried to do it post-trial. According to the aforementioned NBC News article, Ito, now 65, presided over 500 trials after Simpson’s acquittal, only retiring from the bench in 2015. According to the same article, Ito declines nearly all calls for interviews and comments from the media, save for one in 2012 with Fox News .
“I’m still ensconced on the 9th floor of the Downtown LA Criminal Courts Building, trying one long cause/complex criminal matter after another,” Ito told the outlet. "I’m married to the same woman, live in the same neighborhood, [and] drive the same car.”
According to The Associated Press, Ito’s only real plan after retiring was to learn how to play the guitar. Judge Lance Ito: Just like any other retiree you’ve ever met.