Despite Simpson’s claims of living “a conflict-free life” he has remained a household name with little relation to his football career but more for his news-worthy legal history.
When the glove didn’t fit Simpson was acquitted for the murder of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman but he was later found liable in a civil court for the wrongful death of the pair, resulting in an order to pay $33.5 million in damages to the survivors’ families.
In 2007, Simpson attacked two men in a Las Vegas hotel room to retrieve sports memorabilia that he claims was stolen from his home. Simpson was found guilty of several crimes including kidnapping, robbery, and assault. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison, with a nine-year minimum.
Nearing the end of his nine year minimum Simpson went before a parole board and was granted parole, with the possibility of being a free man as early as October 1st.
With a roller coaster like past many wonder what the 70-year-old former football star will live like when he is a free man. He still owes millions of dollars from his 1997 lawsuit, but as it turns out that won’t affect him much financially.
According to news reports, upon his release from jail Simpson can begin collecting his pensions which will pay out more than $25,000 a month. The money paid to him from his pensions with the NFL, Screen Actors Guild, and various private pensions cannot be seized or garnished to pay the debt he owes to the families of Brown and Goldman.
Looking at the life of O.J. Simpson brings up several legal questions for the average citizen. How was he acquitted of murder but still owes the family money? Why doesn’t he have to pay all he owes? If he has an income shouldn’t that go to his debts?
His acquittal and owed monetary damages differ because one is the result of a criminal case and the other civil. A criminal case arises when an individual commits an offense against the state or society as a whole. While O.J.’s criminal case was in regard to the murder of two individuals, any murder is considered an offense against everyone in society.
Once a verdict is found in a criminal case the person cannot be tried again for the same crime, regardless of the outcome, this protects against double jeopardy. The second case brought against Simpson does not fall under this protection because it was filed in a civil court.
A civil case is filed when a person commits an offense against another person. These cases don’t result in jail time but in monetary damages.
O.J. Simpson was acquitted in the murder of Brown and Goldman because the jury had reasonable doubt but he was found liable in a wrongful death suit because there was a preponderance of evidence.
This shows another stark difference between civil and criminal cases. In order to be convicted in a criminal case the prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, but with a civil case you only need to prove that the defendant committed the act by a preponderance of the evidence.
Simpson may not be required to pay on his debt to Brown and Goldman’s families if his only documented income is from his pensions. At the federal level pensions are protected from seizure or garnishment because they fall under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Pensions in Kentucky may be protected from garnishment under KRS 427.150 section 2(e) which states that “assets held, payments made and amounts payable under pensions may be exempt.”
For more information on O.J.’s pensions and his recent parole check out these interesting articles.
If you have any questions about the laws or how they’re carried out feel free to call McCoy & Hiestand at 502-233-8385.