By: M.L. Stein
AS THE TOTAL cost of the O.J. Simpson murder trial reached $3.2 million, two judges spiked the request of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to require the media to pay part of the bill (E&P, March 11).
Presiding Superior Court Judge Gary Klausner denied the board’s request, a decision supported by Lance Ito, the trial judge in the Simpson case.
Responding to the board’s assertion that a large share of the trial costs are related to the sequestration of the jury, Klausner said: “There is no specific indication that would lead to the conclusion that the sequestration is the result of cameras in the court.”
In a separate letter to Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who is leading the drive to assess the media, Judge Ito wrote: “The impetus to sequester jury in this case was the overall news media frenzy outside the courtroom in general, and the computer-generated ‘photograph’ of a beaten Nicole Brown Simpson on the cover of the National Enquirer in particular.”
But Antonovich is not abandoning his quest. He has drafted a proposed bill for the state legislature that would mandate trial-cost reimbursement to the county by broadcasters “if the court determines that permitting film or electronic coverage will require sequestration of a jury, or increased security costs.”
The assessment also would apply to such expenses as courtroom modification and using court- or county-provided equipment.
In February, the county was able to recoup $137,000 of the trial tab through the rental of parking lot space to TV companies in “Camp O.J.” across from the downtown Criminal Courts building.
The county reported that a tour by the jury, Simpson and court officers of the home, where Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed, and of Simpson’s home, cost taxpayers $31,617. The media paid their own way as they covered the event from a distance.
The trial is expected to run well into the summer.