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Report: O.J. Simpson Granted Parole; Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 20, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Comment on is what the lawyer said, O.J.'s attorney said, which I completely agree with. He said O.J. is a polarizing figure and it's not just polarizing along racial lines, black and white. He's polarizing in the African- American community. O.J. at one point said he didn't even identify as African-American, he was O.J., that he was somehow above race and that he didn't have to live by the same standards as other African- Americans did, and many in the African-American community have rejected him and have not stood by him. But I think, for me, what's so important about what happened in 1994 and that trial, we have to remember the backdrop.

This was right after four white cops had been acquitted for the beating of Rodney King that was captured on videotape. So, this trial is taking place with that behind us, with African-Americans feeling the weight of the criminal justice system and feeling as if African- Americans are treated differently. And then you have this racist cop, Mark Furman, in the O.J. trial, this really just outrageous comments using the "n" word, caught on tape. So, again, for me, we have to talk about race. We have to talk about class. And culture when we talk about O.J. Simpson and it's not just black and white. It's the impact that he has on the African-American community as well.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Listening to all of you, and I want to continue this great conversation, just want to point the viewer, a, to this -- this is the Carson City, Nevada, room where we're about to hear from these four different commissioners on the decision to grant this parole, so stand by. That's going to happen in a couple of minutes. But in case you missed some of this testimony from earlier when O.J. Simpson was questioned by these four different members and we'll cut to this as soon as we see it go live. Let me play back some of O.J. Simpson defending himself.

O.J. SIMPSON, INCARCERATED FOR ROBBERY AND KIDNAPPING: At one point, a couple of guys came to me and they said, O.J., understand you're a Baptist. We're Baptist and we have no Baptist service here. Can you help us get a Baptist service here? I worked with them. We now have an ongoing Baptist service that's well attended, I attended religiously, and pun is intended, and I realized in my nine years here that I was a good guy on the street. I'm sure when Bruce gets here, he'll tell you I was always a good guy but I could have been a better Christian and my commitment to change was to be a better Christian.

BALDWIN: Areva, we were talking earlier and you were making the point of all the different times he said he was sorry today when he was questioned by these commissioners and in his full testimony. What else really struck you when you listened to him?

MARTIN: Well, I wish he had made more conciliatory statements too, but I do think, as I listened to the testimony, he said, repeatedly, that he was sorry. He said repeatedly that he made a bad decision, that it was poor judgment. And I was struck by how he tried to help other prisoners. When we think about the prison system, we always hear these horrible stories of gangs and violence, and O.J. said what he tried to do, using his celebrity status, was not to get favors, not to be treated differently, but to help other guys in prison so that they could serve their time and hopefully be paroled in the same way.

And I think he has to be given credit for that because he could have gone in there with this big ego, I'm O.J. Simpson, you know, make this vacation for me, but rather than do that, he used his skills and his celebrity status to try to improve the lives of other prisoners, and I think that's something to take note of and hopefully some of those men that he had the opportunity to interact with will take advantage of the advice he gave them and will lead better lives.

BALDWIN: Let's all stand by. Let's listen to these commissioners.

DAVID SMITH, NEVADA BOARD OF PAROLE COMMISSIONERS: Are we good? All right. Good afternoon. My name is David Smith and I'm speaking today on behalf of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, with my today are Catherine Schaffer, Nevada's Interstate Compact Commissioner and an employee of the parole and probation division and the warden.

The captain and the warden are available to answer questions relative to their operational jurisdiction. Before I read my statement and answer questions, I would like to take the time to thank the Nevada Capital Police, the Carson City Sheriff's Office with their help with security and crowd control today. I'd also like to take the time today to thank the Nevada system of higher education and the video conference support for this hearing. Lastly, I want though thank and recognize the administrative staff of the Nevada Parole Board who have done a tremendous job of working together to facilitate our activities related to the public and media interests in this case.

At 11:55 a.m. this morning, the Nevada Board of Parole Officers granted to grant parole to Mr. Orenthal Simpson, effective when eligible. Mr. Simpson's eligibility date is October 1, 2017, and he may be released from the prison on or after that date once any proposed release plans have been approved. The board stated the reasons for granting parole included Mr. Simpson had no prior conviction or criminal history, he had participated in programs specific to addressing behavior that led to his incarceration, he has stable release plans and community and family support, and the victim in the case testified in support of Mr. Simpson's release. This case will now be turned over to the division of parole and probation to gather and investigate Mr. Simpson's proposed release plans. Warden Bacca indicated they don't have specific statements to make so at this time, I can open it up to questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Interestingly that, you know, you've already provided us the contact information for Florida. So, you were talking about earlier, captain, about the process of, in Florida, so have you already talked and discussed this with all of them in anticipation of this since he had made his desire to move to Florida clear. Did you already know about this and are they aware and ready for this?

CAPTAIN SHAWN ARRUTI, NEVADA DIVISION OF PAROLE AND PROBATION: To answer your question, we did not know what the parole board's plans were, if they were going to approve it or not because they make that determination at the hearing. What we did do was advance planning in anticipation that if he were to be granted parole, that part of his plan that we were aware of was that he had family in Florida that would serve as that support system for him, and with the understanding that he may be interested in doing an interstate compact.

[15:35:00] I have reached out to my counterparts in Florida. They are aware, and they're waiting for -- they'll be waiting for our packet for their investigation to make the determination on whether or not they're willing to accept his case for supervision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're also in a position to deny his request to go to Florida.

ARRUTI: That's correct. So, with the interstate compact, first of all, there's a handout that I provided to everybody that breaks down what the interstate compact process is. And that's -- that's a handout that's provided by the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision. Their website is on there and is a public access website. Anybody can go on there and it's a -- it's got everything you could ever possibly want to know about the interstate compact. So, you're welcome to go on to there. But with that being said, they do have -- when we've put the packet together with the plan and list what his support system is, what his plan for parole is, we submit that to Florida.

They have up to 45 days to do that investigation, and they provide a response. Interstate compact is not a guaranteed thing. Interstate compact is a privilege, but it's a privilege based on meeting certain criteria. And Florida, when they do their investigation, they'll make the determination of whether or not they're going to be willing to accept his case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Captain, in your experience, how often does the receiving state say no, thank you?

ARRUTI: Depending on what the support system is. In the case of either a returning resident or in the case of resident family, the acceptance rate, as long as there's a valid plan of supervision, is high. In the case of a discretionary case where a person doesn't have that support system, but they have other opportunities they're looking to pursue or they're looking for a change of scenery, in those discretional cases, the rate of acceptance is lower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With two and a half months between now and the eligibility date, what would be the hitch that he would not get out on October 1?

ARRUTI: So, the one thing that Nevada doesn't control, under the interstate compact, the -- the receiving state, which, in this case, if the plan is for him to go to Florida, the receiving state would have up to 45 days. If they were to exceed that 45 days, that could postpone. If there was a problem with their investigation that they couldn't complete it in that 45 days, that could postpone the release. But with the amount of lead time, we don't anticipate that there would be a problem with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would not have to spend any time in Nevada at all?

ARRUTI: That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What if Florida said, no?

ARRUTI: If Florida said, no, then the next step -- and this is where I would have to be aware of what the conditions of his release were, our pre-release unit would look to find him a suitable plan or work with him to develop a suitable plan for here in Nevada.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will the date and location of his release be given to the public and the media or can he just be let go without any of us knowing?

ARRUTI: That would be a conversation for the warden. Parole and probation works with the caseworkers at NDOC to develop a release plan and a release date but the actual physical release is up to NDOC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would he be extradited?

ARRUTI: He wouldn't be extradited to that state. If he were accepted for supervision in another state, then either family members would assist with those plans, but generally speaking, most of them either go by bus or plane. Physical release is up to NDOC.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would he be extradited?

ARRUTI: He wouldn't be extradited to that state. If he were accepted for supervision in another state, then either family members would assist with those plans, but generally speaking, most of them either go by bus or plane. Travel arrangements are made upon their -- in anticipation of their release.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, the calls you made to Florida, previous to this, would you typically do that for another inmate knowing, hey, I want to spend the rest of my time in Indiana or is this because we fast tracked everything with Mr. Simpson?

ARRUTI: It's not that it's fast tracked but because we know that it's such a high-profile case with a lot of interest, in the interest of the -- of the other state and preparing them for the phone calls and the e-mails that they may receive, it was a courtesy to let them know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Captain, in the event that the Florida thing doesn't happen, is he allowed to pick another state? We know he has a daughter in California. So, could that -- is he allowed to pick a different place to go other than Nevada? [15:40:00] ARRUTI: Sure. As long as there's a valid plan of

supervision and he has a support system, there's no -- he wouldn't be restricted to just one state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is his family support system in Florida? What do you know about that?

ARRUTI: I'm not familiar with what his support system is, other than I know that he had family members testify today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But when he is released, let's say that Florida accepts him and they do it in time for him to be released on the earliest possible release date, which is October 1, so he would then just walk out of prison or is there a possibility that he may go to another institution, like a stepdown facility or halfway house sometime between now and the time he's let out of incarceration?

ARRUTI: If the plan of transfer is to go to Florida, there wouldn't be a release to the street to go to Florida in that way that you're talking about, like a transitional living or a halfway house. But again, as far as the release process, I'll turn that over to the warden to talk with you about. On my handout, I do have my contact information. You're welcome to give me a call. Additionally, I also have my email address. You're welcome to email me. We will update our website at parole and probation to include the same information that you have. Typically, the division does not speak specifically to one particular offender over another. What we will do is I'm more than willing to discuss with you what the general process is for the interstate compact or pre-release.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One final one on this, on the transfer to Florida, then. Based on your experience, captain, in the matrix you provided to it, does it appear that Simpson will go to Florida?

ARRUTI: As long as he has a valid plan of supervision, along with the support system, there would be a good opportunity for him to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what happens now? What's he -- for the next couple of months, what's he doing? Just waiting?

WARDEN ISIDRO BACCA, NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: OK, so, right now, he'll -- he will stay at Lovelock and they'll develop the release plan for him, for his release parole plan, and then we would go from there as far as for his release, prepare for his release.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why -- is there any half -- I mean, say he stays in Nevada. Is there any halfway house situation or anything for somebody that committed a crime as he did?

BACCA: Well, right now, his -- with his classification and all that, he would probably stay in Lovelock and then release just prior to his release, he would move to one of the other institutions that does releases. If he's going to release in the north, that would be Northern Nevada Correctional Center. If it's in the south, more than likely High Desert State Prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, he'd spend one or two weeks there a month?

BACCA: Right. It would be a short period of time. And then he would transport out. It's just easier to transport from those areas than it is from Lovelock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would be another prison that prepares, that does releases?

BACCA: All the release planning and all that would be done at Lovelock and it would be the matter of moving him, basically, closer to a place that's easier to transport from. Closer to an airport or such like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And one other question, I'm sorry, if -- one of the things that Florida will be considering is whether they want to provide the same types of support and supervision that normally he would have otherwise received in, like, from Nevada's probation commission, right? So, if Florida does accept him, that means it's off your hands, Nevada doesn't have any role, then, once he moves to Florida, Nevada probation and part doesn't have any role in supervising his release after that.

ARRUTI: Under the interstate compact, when a state accepts a person for supervision, the sending state, he is still the responsibility of Nevada and he will be the responsibility of Nevada until he discharges from his parole.

[15:45:00] What Florida's able to do is Florida is able to add terms and conditions to him to supervise him in a similar manner to how they would supervise their own in like circumstances. So, in this case, Florida, if that's where he winds up doing his interstate compact to, Florida would provide him with terms and conditions, and Florida provides courtesy supervision for Nevada, but the ultimate authority for that case is still Nevada.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long is his parole for, how many years?

ARRUTI: It's for whatever his discharge date would be.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warden Bacca, will the location and date of his release be released out to the public?

BACCA: He would be made aware of when his release date just prior and all that. We have what we call a lock-in date of when we know for sure that that's the date that he's going to be going to, but as far as making any kind of announcement, that's not -- that's not something we normally do for any of the other inmates, so I don't believe we would be doing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warden, you mentioned that at some point he may be transferred prior to his release, but until then, for the near future, does anything change in the terms of his confinement, privileges, the day-to-day at Lovelock? BACCA: None of that should change. They should just be really, what he should be working on right now is preparing his parole plan and making sure that gets in and pretty much continuing with what he's been doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a deadline for getting in that particular to be ready for October 1?

BACCA: Well, he wants to get that information in as soon as possible so that people can start working on it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't submit that plan to you prior to today. You know he has people, I want to go to Florida, these are my support but an actual plan, you don't have that yet?

BACCA: What we have -- what happens prior is there's a parole report that is done and his intentions of what he wants to do, should he make parole, is part of that parole report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the extent that he has to check in or -- with a parole or probation supervisor from time to time after his release, would he be doing that in Florida or would he have to come back to Nevada for that?

ARRUTI: So, when he's under supervision by Florida, as a courtesy supervision for Nevada -- sure. Sorry about that. Yes, so, when he -- when Florida's providing the courtesy supervision of Mr. Simpson's case, he would report to a Florida probation officer. Or parole officer in this case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anything went wrong, you know, he did something -- he did something that potentially was a violation of the probation, ultimately, he would end up answering for that back in Nevada corrections?

ARRUTI: Correct. So, if his actions were to lead to a violation and Florida would submit that violation to us, ultimately, if he were to be returned for revocation, he would be coming back to Nevada to answer for that revocation before the parole board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know he's gone nine years, no disciplinary action in prison but in the next two months, is there anything that could happen at Lovelock or another facility that could jeopardize his parole being granted now?

BACCA: Well, any inmate that's granted parole has to continue to follow all the rules and all that that they need to, and you know, should it -- any inmate that creates -- that has such a serious rule violation, there is the possibility of parole being revoked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a situation, though, warden, where -- can he ask for special protection or special, you know, circumstances because he doesn't want to be sort of, I guess, put himself in harm's way or put himself in a situation where others might want to wish him harm or get him in trouble. Can he request any kind of special treatment or protection? BACCA: He could make that request. However, he would need to provide some sort of evidence to base that request off of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what I'm saying here. I mean, it's possible that, you know, and he talked about it in his hearing, that prisoners have a tendency to do things for stupid reasons. So, if someone kind of had it out for him and wanted to jeopardize his parole --

BACCA: They've had nine years to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's a good point. You know, as warden, do you have any reservations about letting him walk out of there on October 1?

BACCA: You know, the parole board makes that decision, and our job is to keep him until they tell us to let him go so that's where our --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you weren't in the deliberations, were you, David?

DAVID SMITH, HEARINGS EXAMINER, NEVADA BOARD OF PAROLE COMMISSIONERS: Thank you. I came in and out when we were deliberating just to make sure everything was OK. But I did not participate --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were there any sticking points? Any points that came up that they were disagreeing on?

[15:50:00] SMITH: By law, in Nevada, deliberations for parole hearings are confidential and so we would not --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell us, we won't tell. I understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any paperwork released after this date? The score, the ranking of why they let him go?

SMITH: We just distributed --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did see it? I didn't get it, I guess.

SMITH: The copy of the order, the conditions of parole as well as the risk instrument and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there anything unusual about the amount of time they spent deliberating?

SMITH: No. For this type of a hearing. Generally, deliberations with smaller panels are shorter because you have fewer people. Four commissioners, that was not -- it wouldn't be uncommon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the time of the hearing? How long it took to get to deliberations?

SMITH: This hearing was a little bit longer because of the amount of conversation that took place. Four commissioners, we knew it would last longer. We expected that we would have a little bit more leeway. We would allow more leeway to allow information to get on the record. And they did want to take time to talk about how things are done because of the interest in the case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Can you describe, Mr. Simpson, as a prisoner, what was he really like? His daily routine. Was he a model prisoner? He said he was a model prisoner, but what does that mean?

BACCA: I'm sorry, he was never at NNCC and I have very little dealings if at all with him when he first came in at High Desert. So that would have been my only involvement with him.




SMITH: One thing, the parole board will not be doing any interviews. So, this is your one shot to ask any question of the board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody at some point, David, be available to characterize Simpson's incarceration?

SMITH: Do you mean as far as like a PIO or something?


SMITH: Brooke Keast is the PIO for the department of corrections and she should be able to answer any questions related to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a little bit off topic, and I forget when this happened exactly during the course of Mr. Simpson's incarceration, there were reports he had gotten into a fight, he was beaten up, I don't know if that was ever addressed then or you could dress that now. Were there any conflicts that he did have? Maybe not -- that were not maybe his fault, but involved in nevertheless?

BACCA: Well, during the hearing, I didn't hear of any disciplinary rule infractions he had. He was disciplinary-free, so I would say, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you again just reiterate why it is that we were able to get a decision today instead of waiting ten days, three weeks, as we would for joe blow?

SMITH: As you recall, the 2013 hearing, it was a panel of one commissioner and one case hearing representative. After that hearing, there wasn't a lot of interest at the time of the hearing. We had several reporters, and one photographer, I think and one camera. But the minute that hearing took place. We became inundated with requests for information by the media. And so, we got that order out as soon as we could. In February, there was the interest -- there were news articles that started coming out, and we began to get inundated for the press with questions about the parole hearing, when it would be.

And we realized if we didn't start then to prepare for a potential, huge event like this turned out to be, that we would have a lot of problems. The board does hold hearings with four commissioners. It's not often because we hold about 9,000 hearings a year. So, we have to spread the case load out between commissioners and hearing reps. In this case, because of the media interest, we opted to have a majority present so that we could provide a ruling on the same day and allow you wonderful folks to be able to go home and let us get back to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Smith, in Nevada, is expression of remorse and insight not a required criteria for release on parole?

SMITH; It is not. Now, there are -- the board does note, in some of its factors when mitigating factor of remorse could be noted, but it's generally only applied, for example, if a person committed a crime and they immediately went and confessed or turned themselves in because of their remorse. But, and that's the only time that factors in. But the board does not require that an inmate state or indicate that they are remorseful.

[15:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was some talk that he wasn't really remorseful when he was answering some of the questions. You have been to other parole hearings, what are your thoughts on that? Is it true that he wasn't really that remorseful?

SMITH: I think that you would have to look at the hearing and question and testimonies hearings stand on this record. I don't think I could address that here. Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You typically say that it takes, what days or sometimes weeks or even longer to make it for the board to render a determination. Is it -- or is it usually just days?

SMITH: Generally, what happens in a regular parole hearing, the panel will make a recommendation to the board. And in Nevada, the panel can make a recommendation and the board members can review and vote by file review and we record the hearings as well so they can review the hearing if they have any concerns or questions. And then, issue the order once there's a majority. So, it doesn't have to be a public meeting to issue that.

That can take because commissioners in Las Vegas are voting on Carson City cases and vice versa, it can take about two weeks. And we don't generally release results until we know that the inmate has been notified. And so that adds a little bit more time. But in this case, because they had four commissioners who voted in a majority they were able to give that answer today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe I missed it, did you answer the question whether you were going to tell us when and where he will be released?

BACCA: So, typically we don't give -- we don't give that information ahead of time. The inmate in general will know ahead of time when his release is, basically we give what's called like a locked in release date, but as far as announcing when and where he's going to be released, we normally don't do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Normally, this isn't a normal case. BACCA: I would tell you, I don't believe we have any plans of doing


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he'd be here up until the final two weeks or so or three weeks, would that be safe to say?

BACCA: That would be safe to say. He'll remain in Lovelock just prior to his release.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you make an exception?

BACCA: Again, I don't believe we have any plans on doing that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so, if was transferred to one of just closer to airports and public transportation you're saying or to populated areas? Like what would those be?

BACCA: We do release -- we primarily do releases out of NNCC for the north, which is located near Carson City, and then out of, in the south, out of High Desert State Prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How will he get back to Florida if that's where he goes?

BACCA: Those arrangements will be made with his parole plan.

ARRUTI: So once the release plan is developed, part of the arrangements that prerelease works out with the caseworkers is the -- whether it's going to be by air, by train, and usually then they work with the family to make arrangements on the purchase of that ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all very much for your cooperation.

ARRUTI: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we appreciate you guys. You went through a great deal of trouble --

BALDWIN: We're going to pull out of this, just housekeeping. Some of the Nevada Department of Correction folks, but while we just have a couple of minutes left, Eric Guster has been seated and it graciously joining us here as well. Haven't heard from you yet. To all of the above, the man is, you know, granted parole, could be walking out as early as October 1, what do you think of all of this?

ERIC GUSTER, CRIMINAL AND CIVIL ATTORNEY: It was, it was due to be granted parole, but, he almost talked himself back into prison. He was very combative, which I was tweeting the entire thing, and what we call in criminal defense, you're going to walk yourself back into the cell. He had the key to his own cell, he was combative, he tried to explain away the robbery, which in our judicial system, once a verdict is rendered, that is a verdict, you can't say well, I really didn't mean to rob anyone. You did it, just say I'm sorry. He's fortunate they didn't hold that against him. I was a little nervous for him.

BALDWIN: Randy, I have one minute until I'm up against "The Lead" here. I mean, I understand, when the victim/friend testified and essentially said, you know, hey, I want to pick you up from prison, sort of case closed.

RANDY ZELIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: That was an unscripted, unrehearsed, such a moving moment, keeping in mind that no matter what O.J. Simpson did today, we would be criticizing him. If he checked off every box was perfectly scripted, said all the right things, we'd get up and say look how scripted he is. Look how ridiculous, he was human, he was real, he was him. He went to trial, he protested his innocence, and you know something, he checked off every box on the risk factors, it's all about security versus rehabilitation, it's time for him to go home.

[16:00:00] BALDWIN: Areva. 20 seconds.

MARTIN: I don't know where Randy has been, but thank you and welcome to the program, Randy. That's what I've been saying all morning.

BALDWIN: Yes. All right.

MARTIN: Seriously, though, Brooke, remorse is not a factor. I'm glad they cleared that up.

BALDWIN: OK. OK. Eric, quickly, anything else?

GUSTER: He's lucky. I mean, he was -- he did check off the boxes, but these people are humans, and they have to vote. It's a human judgment that they have to give, and all of White House practice criminal law know that sometimes judges and parole boards, things may be all right, things may check all the boxes, but they may vote against us.

BALDWIN: Thank all of you so much. It has been a wild day here. Watching what's happened there in Lovelock correctional facility in Nevada. Thanks for being with me, "The Lead" is next.