Video Of Johnnie Cochran's Closing Argument At The O.J. Simpson Trial Is Very Powerful
The O.J. Simpson trial is largely credited with being the jumping off point of our modern, wall-to-wall coverage of so-called "media circus" murder trials. Judge Lance Ito's decision to televise every moment of the trial held a national audience enrapt, and so, closing arguments essentially functioned like the nail-biting lead up to a shocking final scene in a well-written series finale. The finale of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson will dramatize closing arguments in much the same way. Video of Johnnie Cochran's closing argument shows that the rhetorical style actor Courtney B. Vance uses in the mini-series isn't just made up for effect — it was really that dramatic.
Cochran actually used the "gratuitous hyperbole" North Carolina judges accused him of in last week's episode in his closing. He repeatedly drove home to the jury what he called the "three Cs" of the case: corruption of the LAPD, contamination of the evidence by police, and a conspiracy to frame Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Smith and Ronald Goldman (for which Simpson was found not guilty). Associate Barry Scheck, in his followup statements added the "fourth C of continuing cover-up," which, he argued, the jury would be implicitly culpable in if they took the police's side and convicted Simpson.
Scheck and Cochran effectively used a one-two punch of facts and emotions to sway the jury: Cochran and his rhetorical style stirred up their emotions, while Scheck's slick Brooklyn lawyer vibe coolly poked holes in the prosecution's supposedly solid DNA evidence. Cochran concluded with a list of 15 questions he rattled off all at once for Marcia Clark to answer in her rebuttal, in perhaps his most grandiose oratorical stunt.
And finally, there was the rhyming jingle Cochran used during arguments often, which he used it again at the end of his closing, imploring the jury to consider the evidence (and reminding them of the prosecution's flopped glove stunt): "Do the right thing. Remembering that if it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
You can check out the video of the real Johnnie Cochran making his closing arguments above. As you'll see, Cochran's grand finale was just as mesmerizing as The People v. O.J. Simpson makes it out to be.