ATTN URBAN DICTIONARY: The “O.J. Effect”
With her acquittal from first degree murder charges in relation to the death of her daughter Caylee, Casey Anthony recently joined the pariah hall of fame—and here’s the real kicker—at the number one position. Previously, O.J. Simpson held the hallowed title as society’s most hated living person, but due to inadvertent positive contributions to society, I believe Ms. Anthony has replaced him. Indeed, while Ms. Anthony has failed to contribute anything whatsoever to society (“Zanny the Nanny” was as close as she got), Mr. Simpson has endowed us with numerous cultural treasures such as: a stellar football career, significant roles in hit movies such as “Airplane,” super jolly Hertz commercials, and the subject of this article: “The O.J. Effect.”
The “O.J. Effect” is the societally-driven mechanism that bars acquitted murderers from receiving otherwise legal publishing profits (double jeopardy prevents the law from doing so—see note below). The catalyst for the creation of this divine dose of Karma was O.J.’s attempted November 2006 release of a tell-all book titled “If I Did It.” Sometime in October of that year, O.J. approached publisher Judith Regan with the idea of publishing a book about how he committed the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown. 400,000 copies were printed before public outrage forced a cancellation of the publishing deal (interestingly, one book managed to escape—it was sold on eBay for $65,000).
Fast forward 5 years. CBS recently reported that Casey Anthony is planning to hire a ghost writer to draft a set of memoirs, but word has it (and this humble author hopes) that the O.J. Effect will work to preclude Ms. Anthony from profit. Unless Judith Regan (whose career was already destroyed by the “O.J. Effect”), or some other soulless publisher looking to create a depraved niche for murderers surfaces, Ms. Anthony is likely out of luck. As one publisher commented, such a deal would be “career suicide” for anyone whose name becomes associated with it. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Note on Double Jeopardy: The Fifth Amendment states “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” So generally, once a defendant is acquitted, he cannot be retried for the same offense. Yeager v. U.S., 129 S.Ct. 2360 (2009). Thus, Ms. Anthony can admit to the murder of Caylee, and give details about it, without fear of being retried.