THE ADVOCATE 615
VOL. 80 PART 4 JULY 2022
By D. Michael Bain, Q.C.*
THE TRIAL OF THE CENTURY
In 1995, when I was in my first year of law school, one morning the professor
cut short the tort lecture so that everyone could go to the cafeteria (Candida’s)
and watch “live on TV” the jury deliver its verdict in the O.J. Simpson
double-murder trial. The fact that the trial was televised was quite extraordinary
for the time, and not only my tort class, but also other classes simply
adjourned and converged on the small cafeteria where the only television
in the law school was located.
I, meanwhile, stayed behind in an empty classroom catching up on some
reading (it was October and I always felt that October was a good time to
start doing some reading). At the time, I was in my own bubble quite
removed from the hysteria and sensationalism surrounding the event. I did
not then (and still do not) think the subject matter warranted the attention
it was getting. There were no smartphones at the time, and the internet was
mercifully only in its infancy. Nevertheless, that year, broadcast news and
print media devoted more lines of text and more airtime to the O.J. Simpson
trial than the Bosnian War and the Oklahoma City bombing combined.
While I sat alone in the lecture hall reading Lane v. Holloway, I apparently
missed out on what Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post called “the most
dramatic courtroom verdict in the history of Western civilization”.1
I remember people talking about O.J.’s slow-speed car chase (broadcast
live on television, something of a first) and about the “dream team” assembled
for O.J.’s defence—and, of course, I learned that the best criminal
defence is one reduced to a single rhyming couplet containing poor grammar.
But more than that, I remember taking umbrage to the repeated use of
the phrase “trial of the century” to describe the O.J. Simpson trial. This was
* D. Michael Bain, Q.C., is the editor of the Advocate.