Judge removed sole black juror in OJ case

 

THE sole black juror in the wrongful death suit against former American football star O.J. Simpson was removed by the judge yesterday because of improprieties, and replaced by an Asian American male.

After announcing the woman's dismissal, Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki replaced her with an alternate and ordered the newly empaneled jury to disregard all the previous 14 hours of deliberations and start anew.

The appointment of a computer programmer in his 30s to replace the dismissed woman, who was in her sixties, also tilts the gender make up of the now six woman, six man jury which has been hearing the civil suit for the past four months.

They will determine whether Simpson (49), a former athlete, actor and corporate spokesman is liable for the June 1994 deaths of his ex wife Nicole Brown (35) and her friend Ronald Goldman (25).

Simpson had been acquitted of their murders by a largely black jury in the sensational 10 month criminal trial last year that held the nation's headlines hostage for its duration.

If found liable in the civil trial, Simpson will not serve any prison time, but may have to surrender any seizable assets to pay compensatory and punitive damages to the families of the victims who filed the lawsuits.

The juror was pulled at the defence's request because she failed to reveal during jury selection that her daughter worked as a secretary in the office of District Attorney Gil Garcetti, who engineered the criminal prosecution.

And on Thursday night, deputies searched the home of Ms Brenda Moran, who was a juror in the criminal trial.

Ms Moran allegedly wrote a letter to two jurors in the wrongful death case offering them her assistance in dealing with the media after they reach a verdict.

If the jurors had responded to her offer, it could be a violation of Judge Fujisaki's order barring any contact with the 12 jurors and four alternates during the trial.

Investigators seized from Ms Moran's home a computer, boxes, bags and envelopes filled with items but officials would not comment on the items, noting that they were under a gagging order.

On Thursday, jurors began what appeared to a long process of examining physical and photographic evidence linked to the deaths of Simpson's ex wife and Ronald Goldman.

Jurors asked for videos of the crime scene, Simpson's bedroom, a detective entering Simpson's estate, and poster pictures of a map of the estate and crime scene and Simpson's Bronco, a blood trail as well as a DNA test timeline.

The quantity of the evidence as well as readbacks of some of the testimony suggested that this seven woman, five man jury were examining physical evidence highlighted by the defence.

The defence has argued that the black athlete, actor and corporate pitchman was framed for the June 12, 1994 killings by racist police who planted and manipulated the evidence.

The sensational trial drew international attention, but families of the victims - unsatisfied by the verdict - filed a civil suit that could allow them to dig into Simpson's assets if he is found liable for the deaths.