When O.J. Simpson was charged with the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman in 1994, the legal odds seemed stacked against the former football star.
Finding the best possible defense team was crucial to Simpson’s chances. He got that, and more, and was acquitted of murder on October 3, 1995.
What Simpson assembled, in fact, was a star-studded, experience-rich, celebrity-stamped cartel — the likes of which we may never see again. Here are five amazing facts about O.J. Simpson’s Dream Team: Robert Kardashian; Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr.; Robert Shapiro; F. Lee Bailey; and Alan Dershowitz.
1) Yes, Robert Kardashian Was Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, and Rob’s Dad.
At the time of the O.J. Simpson trial, the world knew of only one Kardashian: Robert, a successful businessman and longtime friend of Simpson’s.Kardashian became famous the minute he publicly read what seemed to be a suicide note written by Simpson the day he was scheduled to turn himself in. Though he had to reactivate his legal license, Kardashian joined the Dream Team as an assistant. He died of esophageal cancer in 2003.
Bonus Fact: Kardashian’s fourth and final marriage, to Ellen Pearson, began two weeks after his cancer diagnosis, and just six weeks before his death.
2) Johnnie L. Cochran Was Friends With Michael Jackson — and Magic Johnson and Stevie Wonder and A Ton Of Other Celebrities.
Johnnie L. Cochran (the L, by the way, stands for “L”) was a well-known lawyer before the Simpson case, renowned for his skills as well as his outsized personality.
After the trial, however, during which he was the most visible of an astoundingly high-profile team, Cochran became a national celebrity, frequently appearing as a talking head on news shows as well as himself on a number of network sitcoms. He became a go-to lawyer for the rich and famous, representing Sean Combs and Michael Jackson, among others.
Bonus Fact: Mount Vernon Middle School, the Los Angeles school Cochran attended, was renamed Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Middle School in 2006.
3) Robert Shapiro Cofounded LegalZoom.
Robert Shapiro made his name with O.J., but it’s with a far less controversial pursuit that he may leave his greatest mark.In 2001, Shapiro was contacted by a group of entrepreneurs about a legal-document services site that would create standard legal documents such as wills and copyrights for users. Seeking a publicly known personality to be the face of the company, the founders pursued Shapiro, who nearly turned them down without having heard the concept.
Today, LegalZoom is the leading online “legal brand” catering to document creation for small business and private persons.
Bonus Fact: Shapiro founded The Brent Shapiro Foundation after the death of his son from an MDMA overdose in 2005.
4) F. Lee Bailey Represented The Fugitive and The Boston Strangler.
Bailey was responsible for what was possibly the key turning point in the trial: the cross examination of detective Mark Furhman, during which Fuhrman was exposed as having called African Americans “n*****s,” ultimately crippling his credibility in front of jurors.
But before that, Bailey had already carved out a place in American legal, and pop culture, history. It was Bailey that represented Albert DeSalvo when the Massachusetts man, already in jail on rape charges, confessed in 1964 to being the infamous Boston Strangler.
And it was Bailey who won convicted murderer Sam Sheppard a retrial and an eventual not-guilty verdict. The story of Sheppard, who was accused of killing his wife, eventually was adapted as “The Fugitive,” a successful 60s TV show as well as a 1993, Harrison Ford-–starring film.
Bonus Fact: In 1952, Bailey dropped out of Harvard to join the Marines.
5) Alan Dershowitz Has Advised Julian Assange.
Alan Dershowitz, one of the most famous lawyers in the United States, is no stranger to nationally known cases, whether it was the pornography-fueled “Deep Throat” case that touched on First Amendment issues or the Claus Von Bulow case, which was later explored in the Jeremy Irons–starring Reversal Of Fortune.
Dershowitz, however, in 2011, joined what might be his most far-reaching case, advising WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on “American aspects“ of potential criminal charges the U.S. government may file against Assange. “I’m currently in this case because I believe that to protect the First Amendment we need to protect new electronic media vigorously,” Dershowitz said.
Bonus Fact: Dershowitz was portrayed by Ron Silver in Reversal Of Fortune.
For more on the O.J. case, watch Investigation Discovery’s O.J. Simpson Trial: The Real Story on ID GO now!
Main photo: FILE – In this Oct. 3, 1995 file photo, O.J. Simpson, center, reacts as he is found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, as members of his defense team, F. Lee Bailey, left, and Johnnie Cochran Jr., right, look on, in court in Los Angeles [Myung J. Chun/Daily News via AP, Pool]