What Happened During the O.J. Simpson Civil Trial?
The jury in O.J. Simpson’s 1997 civil trial found that Simpson was liable for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. They awarded the $25 million in punitive damages to be divided up among the families of the two victims and an additional $8.5 million in compensatory damages to Goldman’s family.
In order to award damages in the civil case, the jury had to find O.J. Simpson liable under the burden of proof in civil court, which is that in “all probability” he committed the murders. The jury found that this burden was fulfilled by the testimony and evidence, including some information not revealed by his criminal trial for the murders in 1995, and proceeded to award damages.
The combined $33.5 million in awarded damages were considered to be excessive by legal scholars at the time, since Simpson was not believed to possess that amount of money. After the trial, the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were able to collect a small amount of the awarded sum through the auction of some of O.J. Simpson’s belongings and later, through the rights to his book.
The Goldman family unsuccessfully attempted to seize some of O.J. Simpson’s other assets, including his NFL pension and his properties, as restitution for the unpaid civil awards.