Everything You Need To Know About O.J.'s Parole Hearing, According To A Legal Expert
O.J. Simpson, who was famously acquitted in the 1995 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, has already served nine years on a nine-to-33 year sentence in a medium-security Nevada prison. Lovelock Correctional Facility's most famous inmate was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery, among other charges, after a botched 2007 sports memorabilia heist at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This parole hearing is the first time he will be potentially eligible for release, although he was previously granted parole on some of the counts against him at a 2013 hearing (his sentences run consecutively).
October 1 is the earliest that the Juice could be back on the loose if he is granted parole. He is expected to speak at the hearing via videoconference.
We spoke with ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams about the upcoming hearing, Simpson's chances for parole, and what his future looks like. Abrams covered the original murder trial for Court TV and recently founded LawNewz Network, a website that streams live trials for at least 8 hours daily with added in-studio analysis and commentary from notable legal analysts/hosts. LawNewz, along with ESPN and a number of other sites, will be live-streaming the hearing tomorrow.
In your opinion, what's the likelihood of O.J. Simpson being granted parole on Thursday? I think it's more likely than not that he will be granted parole. But if he weren't O.J. Simpson, I think he'd have a much better shot. I think with the exact same circumstances and the exact same crime and the exact same prison record—same age, same gender, same state and same parole board—I think it would be a 90-plus percent chance that he would get parole if he wasn't O.J. Simpson. Being O.J. Simpson and the history that he has that, you know, probably shouldn't be considered, I'd say it's a 50-to-60 percent chance that he gets parole.
In terms of "being O.J. Simpson," he was found not guilty in the criminal murder trial, but liable for their deaths in a 1997 civil case. Can that be brought up in this parole hearing? In theory, a civil judgment shouldn't be used against him. It's not one of the factors that a parole board is supposed to be considering. It's very different from a criminal case, where someone has been convicted of a crime. Past criminal record is one of the facts [that will be looked at], but past civil judgement is not. Now, is there an argument that one could make that that background makes him more of a potential public safety threat, which is a potential factor? I guess. But it's a bit of a long shot argument.
The 1995 murder trial lasted eight months. How long do you think this parole hearing will take? The parole hearing will probably take about 20 minutes.
Wow. Is that typical? Keep in mind, he's already been granted parole on 5 of the 12 charges, which is the other reason one would guess that he's going to get parole now. He still has a very good record in prison, etc. The only difference now is that some of the charges he's up for may be more serious [than the ones for which he was granted parole in 2013]. That is a factor that can be considered. But this is expected to be a brief proceeding, just as it was in 2013. Maybe it'll take 20 minutes, half an hour, something like that.
The Nevada Board of Parole (Photo courtesy of the Nevada Board of Parole)
And how come the charges were broken up into two separate parole hearings? Is that typical? Yes, it's based on which charges you're eligible for parole on earlier. If he'd just been convicted of the first charges, he would have been out. But he had additional charges which he's now facing and is up for parole on now.
Do we know anything about the four members of the parole board who will be deciding his case, and whether they tend to be conservative or more lenient? I think the best indicator is to look at 2013 [during his previous parole hearing].
Can you remember any other parole hearing that got as much attention as this one? You know, Charles Manson is probably the only I can think of. When Manson himself was up for parole the first time, I think that's the only one that was remotely comparable.
O.J. will be participating in the hearing via videoconference. Is there anything we can expect him to say? I think he's going to be contrite. He's got to be apologetic. Look, it's his to lose. He's got to avoid saying something stupid or saying something offensive, or saying something that rubs people the wrong way.
I know you covered the original murder trial for CourtTV. Did you ever imagine that two decades later you'd still be going O.J. Simpson legal coverage? [Laughs] Well, I assumed we'd be doing a 20 years later look back, but I didn't imagine that we'd be doing a look back with O.J. Simpson in prison on another charge. That's the amazing thing about this, that somehow he blew it. He was given an enormous gift, and he blew it.
Why do you think he blew it? I just think he was arrogant and he was reckless. I think he was stupid.
So if he gets out on parole, what's next for O.J. Simpson? What do you think his life will look like? I think he's going to have to really go underground for a while because he's going to be ostracized, again. But he'll still have this little group of supporters. I mean, every murderer on death row has, you know, 10 women who are trying to marry them, etc. Bottom line is that O.J. will have his followers, but he certainly won't have the love of the country that he had before the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
And do you think there is any chance he'll pick up the Hertz sponsorship deal again after his release? No way. I assume that's a rhetorical question. No one—apart from someone trying to create a controversy and consequentially trying to get attention for an intentionally provocative and outrageous move—no one is going to sponsor him. And remember that any money that he makes will go to the Goldman family, because he owes them $33 million.
You can live-stream Thursday's parole hearing with commentary from Abrams and Yale Galanter, who was Simpson's defense attorney for the 2007 incident, here.