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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996. Interview J-0075. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Evaluation of the O.J. Simpson trial

Beech weighs in on the O.J. Simpson trial. He upholds the supremacy of the law. Because of race, the ruling in Simpson's case comes under scrutiny by the media. Beech argues that the law should be binding and sufficient. He discusses the media's role in heightening racial tensions so that more advertisements can be shown.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996. Interview J-0075. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

So, since you didn't think that you wanted to be a judge, what was the highest level you wanted to go to in the legal profession?
Practicing law. That I think I achieved. In everyday cases, in all kinds of cases. I, you say what is your specialty? Law. I wouldn't bother the intrinsic things about business and corporate law or anything, but the general practice, I handled personal injury cases for years. Criminal cases for awhile, and when we got in a partnership, we divided it all, but practicing law is a challenging thing to anybody. And being a judge wouldn't fit me at all. Because the first thing, I don't think God has endowed me with the power to judge anything, about anything.
So you didn't have a special area of law that you liked better? For example--?
Personal injury, finally. For the last ten years of my practice, that's all I did. With Mr. Pollock, Don Pollock who went to law school at Chapel Hill, under my encouragement. And Morehouse, by the way, under my encouragement. And Paul Jones, who is now a judge, I introduced to the court the other day. He went to Central. And he works with me. And Don Pollock. The criminal, the criminal, the most interesting part about the practice is criminal law; it's more intriguing than any other. And, you know, you're looking at justice as it is, and you don't get--a lot of people say did you win the case or did you lose the case. You never win a case or lose a case, the case is won or lost depending on what your client did or did not do. And the client is entitled to everything the law says. This is what disturbs me about O. J. Simpson's trial. They keep on talking about what happened in his case. It bothers me as a lawyer. I don't have a whole lot of feeling for O. J. one way or the other. But I can say this: he was tried by the system, and he was found not guilty. Now, that should be the end of that. He is not guilty under law. Nobody said a thing in Mississippi when Emmett Till was killed, and the Klan was tried and couldn't find them, and tried them and set them loose and then, and all that kind of excuses about even trying them. Nobody said anything about it.
How did you feel when the media turned it into a race issue?
Well, I felt as I feel now. I felt the same way, that if they can't win--. They would have been pleased by the fact that if he were convicted and sentenced. So, the media is looking for things to excite people by. And I guess it's a business deal, too. The more attention they get, the more people interested in what they show, then the more advertisements they get, you know. That's part of the business game. So, you know, I can see their motive. Their motive is making money by selling a product, and selling a product is to get people excited enough to look. They don't bother me one way or the other. What I'm saying is O. J. was tried by the rules that we set down; he was found not guilty by the rules, now let's get on to something else. And I don't have a whole lot of love for him, one way or the other. OK?