OJ Simpson was acquitted in the criminal trial; however, was found
responsible for the deaths in the civil case.
In a criminal trial, the prosecutors must prove 100% guilt or guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. In Simpson’s
criminal trial, the infamous glove, created doubt within the jury. In a civil case, only 50% doubt is needed to
prove negligence. The reason a civil
trial only needs a 50% guilt, is because one’s freedom is not at stake. If negligence is determined in a civil trial,
damages are paid to the plaintiff in the form of monetary compensation. Also, in a civil trial, the defendant can be
forced to testify. In OJ’s civil case,
he was forced to answer specific questions about the murders, such as how the
blood got in his Bronco and home and if he ever beat Nicole. OJ didn’t testify in his criminal trial. OJ’s answers are what proved his negligence
in the civil case.
Rodney King Case
Although the video clearly captured the four officers beating Rodney
King, the jury acquitted all four officers.
Each of the officers were later indicted in federal court for violating
Mr. King’s civil rights. Two of the
officers were acquitted and two of the officers were convicted and sentenced to
two and a half years in prison.
In 1991, Lemrick Nelson was tried for the murder of Yankel
Rosenbaum, during race riots in NY. Rosenbaum
identified Nelson as the man who stabbed him, before he passed away. While at the station, Nelson confessed to
officers. The jury in the state trial
acquitted Nelson. The federal case brought
against Nelson ended much differently.
Nelson was found guilty in the federal case and sentenced to 19.5 years
Many people are under the misconception that a person can’t be tried
for the same crime twice. However, the
federal government can bring charges against a defendant who has already been
convicted in state court for the same conduct.
This is known as dual sovereignty.
Ferdico, J., Fradella, H., Totten, C. (2016) Criminal Procedure
for the Criminal Justice
Professional, 12th Edition. Thomson Learning
Mydans, S. (1993, August
05). Sympathetic Judge Gives Officers 2 1/2 Years in Rodney King
Beating. The NY Times.
Retrieved January 13, 2018, from www.nyytimes.com
The Differences Between a
Criminal Case and a Civil Case. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2018, from
Vinegrad, A. (2003).
Prosecutions of Lemrick Nelson Jr. New York Law Journal, 229(99).