The Bad Guy Goes Unpunished

In law school you learn the maxim "hard cases make bad law." In other words, it's tempting to craft draconian penalties when you're staring really bad guys in the face. You should resist, because the rules have to apply to similarly situated folks, and there are many shades of evil.

O.J. Simpson, unfortunately, is a beneficiary of this principle. Feb. 4, 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the jury verdict that effectively announced to the world that Simpson killed Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, and ordered the ex-athlete to pay more than $30 million to their families. So far, virtually none of that money has been paid, yet Simpson has lived in fine style off of his NFL pension of some $25,000 per month.

We've heard plenty of outrage from Fred Goldman. Where's the anger, though, from the rest of society, or from legislators who could change the law to move a little bit of a small fortune from the blood-drenched hands of a killer to the pockets of his victims' families?

It's too bad the judicial system is allergic to outrage. It's too bad a judge doesn't slam his or her gavel and say "I've had enough." He killed two people, and now he's playing golf and sipping pina coladas. He's scamming the system with his faux confessional, "If I Did It." It's time for the money to go to the people who deserve it.

Royal F. Oakes is an ABC News Legal Analyst

Why doesn't a judge with guts appoint a team of financial sleuths to follow Simpson's slippery financial channels, examine the Goldmans' claim of fraudulent conveyance -- Simpson has apparently funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to a dummy corporation, which felt the best interests of its shareholders were served by paying Simpson's taxes and his kids' school expenses -- and turn the financial screws on this would-be author?

This, I'm afraid, is likely too much to ask. There are niceties of protocol to observe. The latest effort against Simpson is floating in legal limbo as a federal judge in California has decided the case may only proceed in Florida.

Then there's the hallowed status of pensions, and the fact that the legal system won't let itself get too worked up about "hard cases." Maybe things will change by the verdict's 20th anniversary; my advice: don't hold your breath.

Royal F. Oakes is an ABC News Legal Analyst

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