Calling a foul
In basketball, there is a reality about officiating the game known as the “makeup call.” Let’s say during a game between the Creeps and the Goons, the ref makes a bad call on the Goons. Everybody knows it was a bad call, and even the ref realizes it was a mistake, that he punished the Goons unfairly. Usually, it won’t take long for that ref to make up for his blooper by calling a foul on the Creeps, in the spirit of evening things up and fair play.
After watching the terrific O.J. Simpson documentary recently on ESPN, I was reminded that, when we stand back and look at the Big Picture, it was none other than the Silver State of Nevada that handed down one of the all time “makeup calls” in judicial history. There’s no other way to interpret the 33-year sentence that smacked O.J. upside the head in the Vegas courtroom of Judge Jackie Glass in ’07, who threw such a loaded, thick book of assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, and conspiracy charges at Ole Number 32 that—well, as Carl Douglas, one of O.J.’s dream team of lawyers said, “Those charges were worth about a two-year sentence, at the most.”
In the Grand Scheme of Things, it all worked out in a way that was unpredictable, unknowable, and, ultimately, ultra-righteous. The only way L.A. was not gonna burn on the day of The Verdict in October 1995 was if OJ was ruled not guilty. A guilty call would have likely resulted in a Rodney King-type rampage all over again. So by coming in with their outrageous acquittal, the jury did indeed do one very positive thing—spare the city of Los Angeles.
But, as it turned out, the story was just beginning. Yes, it was obvious O.J. had gotten away, literally, with murder. The jury had, like a shitty ref, made a really rotten call, and a makeup call was badly needed. It turned out to be a two-step process. First, there was the belated but not trivial triumph of the Goldmans in their 1997 civil trial. By the time that jury made its condemnatory, wallet-flattening, guilty verdict against Ohje, the racial tension that had surrounded the criminal trial had deflated enough to where there was nowhere near the danger of unrest and riots if things went against The Juice. And things indeed stayed under control.
Then, the coup de grace, that odd story in Vegas about O.J. wanting his memorabilia, and making the colossal fuckup of bringing a gunman along for the confrontation at that Palace Station hotel room. With that gun in the mix, Nevada had everything it needed. Nevada could then say, Hey, Marcia Clark, Chris Darden, the Browns and Goldmans, we got your back. We got you covered.
In the end, it was a weird, wild, 13-year ride, but we finally were able to successfully execute that much-needed “makeup call.”