Jury: Simpson liable Awards $8.5M in damages

  Gale Holland; Jonathan T. Lovitt


  USA Today


  Page 01A

  (Copyright 1997)


  SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- To whoops of ``Yes!'' from the victims' relatives, a

  civil jury found O.J. Simpson liable Tuesday in the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole

  Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.


  By the time the last verdict was read in a tense, sweltering courtroom, nearly all

  Brown and Goldman family members had tears in their eyes.


  Simpson, sitting with family members, stared ahead and made no comment.


  But Goldman family friend Jim Ziegler said he heard Simpson say, ``I should be

  on the 18th hole now. They called me off the 18th hole,'' as he passed the



  The jury unanimously awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages to

  Goldman's parents. But the case continues today, as lawyers return for a hearing

  to determine how much money Simpson has and how much he'll be ordered to

  pay as punitive damages.


  The Brown family had not requested compensatory damages but is entitled to

  punitive damages. ``I feel ecstatic, ecstatic,'' said Denise Brown, sister of Nicole.


  After leaving the courthouse, Simpson drove through crowds of reporters and

  bystanders in a black Chevrolet Suburban and later stopped at an ice cream

  parlor to buy some for his daughter.


  The jury finished deliberating at 3:25 p.m. PT, but the findings were not

  announced until 7:12 p.m., about the same time President Clinton finished his

  State of the Union address.


  Johnnie Cochran Jr., Simpson's lead lawyer in the criminal case, said, ``I accept

  the verdicts, and we move on.''


  Fred Goldman, Ron's father, said, ``Thank God for some justice for Ron and

  Nicole. We're enormously grateful and thankful.''


  The mostly white jury's findings snatched away some of the victory Simpson

  claimed in 1995 when a mostly black jury acquitted him of the June 12, 1994,



  That verdict polarized the USA over issues of police racism, domestic violence

  and the quality of justice.


  Under civil case rules, the jury was able to deliberate using a lesser standard of

  judgment used in criminal cases. Jurors merely had to use the standard of

  ``preponderance of evidence,'' rather than ``beyond a reasonable doubt.''


  Los Angeles police say the verdict supported their work.


  Retired detective Tom Lange, one of the chief investigators in the criminal case,

  said, ``I hope this thing does go away, I really do.''


  Simpson's lawyers will almost certainly appeal the verdict, contending that

  Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki made numerous errors that robbed

  Simpson of a fair trial.

  PHOTO, Color, Nick Ut, AP; PHOTO, Color, CNN; PHOTO, Color, Gary

  Hershorn, Reuters