Thursday, August 30, 2007

YET MORE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

Yesterday there was a story that Barnes & Noble continues to refuse to stock O.J. Simpson's book If I Did It. This is true even though the book has risen to number six among orders on their web page.

If I Did It is a reprehensible concept for a book. A man acquitted of a murder, but found liable in a civil trial theororizes about how the murders could have happened, if, in fact, he were the murderer. It seems like mocking the families of the victims, as well as the jury that acquitted him. It deserves to be ignored by thoughful people.

Except of course for the fact that it represents the apex of an ethical dilemma created by a generous jury. The civil court decision regarding O.J.'s liability, as well as the unconscionable (definition 2) $33.5 million award for the wrongful death of Ron Goldman, have created this ethical dilemma. Under the laws of California (where he was found liable) and Florida (his state of domicile), O.J. has never had to pay the Goldmans the money awarded. They are bound to O.J. by the award until it is paid off. In fact, Goldman's dad seems to have come to regard collecting the award as the sole penalty O.J. will face for murdering his son. Therefore, the Goldmans got a court to award them the profits from If I Did It.

It is very disturbing to me that because of an excessive civil damages award the Goldmans now have an interest in a book selling well that should be beneath contempt. It's almost as if Mein Kampf sales were going to support the Council for Jewish Elderly. Can you imagine having a bunch of eighty-year old Jews rooting for sales of that book? Had the civil jury reached a more realistic damage award it is possible that O.J. would have been able to pay it off. This would have allowed the Goldmans to move on and get O.J. out of their lives. The excessive award has led to over a decade of cat-and-mouse, with O.J. trying to minimize collectible assets and the Goldman's pursuing him. Just terrible.

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