'The People v. O.J. Simpson': How Accurate Was the Eighth Episode?

The jurors presiding over the O.J. Simpson criminal case were in fact as miserable as they were portrayed in Tuesday's episode of FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, according to the reporter who most closely covered the case.

Almost every member of the jury wore black to court one day in protest, as depicted in the episode titled "A Jury in Jail," Jim Newton, former lead cops reporter for the Los Angeles Times, tells The Hollywood Reporter.

"It was so weird," he recalls to THR. "It was almost all of them in black. Some of them weren't [in black], and that seemed to suggest some division within the jury because there was some statement being made, but not all of them were making it."

At first, Newton, now a professor in UCLA's communication studies department and editor of the university's Blueprint magazine, says he believed the protest had to do with evidence or lawyers.

"In fairly short order, we learned that wasn't the case, that it had to do with the living conditions, security, et cetera," he says. 

Jurors were under tremendous stress, Newton says, and it is true they were cut off from the outside world as best could be managed by authorities, he adds. 

"We knew some of the conditions," he tells THR. "It's generally true that they were to be cut off from news. They weren't to read anything or watch anything about the case. And the case was so pervasively covered that I suspect that meant fairly draconian rules on them." 

The episode was also accurate in showing numerous jurors being dismissed for various reasons, Newton says. 

"I don't remember the exact number, but there definitely was a big shuffle of jurors," he remembers. "From the very outset of the case, I think people understood that because it was going to take a long time — although I think it took a lot longer than anyone expected — that there was going to be some juror attrition, so [the court] collected a large number of alternates with the idea that some would drop off." 

As for the case itself, Newton says it is unclear how close the defense came to putting Simpson on the stand, but that idea seemed to get less likely as the trial proceeded. 

"Once the defense scored some big shots, like the gloves, the chances of Simpson testifying dwindled quickly," he says. "Defendants in high-profile cases rarely ever testify."

Another "big shot" the defense scored, which was depicted in the episode, was the manhandling of LAPD criminologist Dennis Fung — played by Jun Hee Lee — who was responsible for crime scene analysis. 

"That was endless, the Dennis Fung testimony," Newton says with a chuckle. "I think it was eight days that he was on the stand. And one of the results of that it is that it was very muddled. The cross examination was sharper than the direct examination, and that was a real problem for the prosecution. He had a really tough time of it up there." 

Previous fact-checking installments for the series:

*Episode One

*Episode Two

*Episode Three

*Episode Four

*Episode Five

*Episode Six

*Episode Seven

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