Editor’s note: Every Friday, HLN brings you the "My First Time" series. It explores the first time your favorite celebrities did something significant or memorable (so get your mind out of the gutter!).
In this installment, HLN’s very own Jane Velez-Mitchell -- a TV reporter and host with years of courtroom experience -- remembers covering her first big criminal trial.
HLN: What was the first big trial you covered as a journalist?
Jane Velez-Mitchell: The first big trial I covered was the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The former football star/actor was accused of viciously killing his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. I was a news anchor at KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and we did wall-to-wall coverage between January and October of 1995. It was called the trial of the century and introduced the public to the intricacies of DNA evidence. A large tent city sprung up around the courthouse as thousands of journalists converged on downtown Los Angeles for the trial. That was the case that really changed the rules of the game for criminal cases, where defense attorneys began to get very, very creative.
HLN: What stands out to you the most about that trial?
JVM: “Garbage in, garbage out” was one of the famous phrases to come out of that case, where O.J. Simpson’s “dream team” challenged the substantial forensic evidence, claiming it was improperly collected and that some of it was planted. Of course, the most famous phrase was “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” That comment was a reference to the bloody gloves that O.J. found too small to comfortably slip on in a courtroom demonstration. Simpson was acquitted in the criminal trial.
HLN: What made you interested in covering criminal trials?
JVM: Criminal trials are fascinating because they are the one venue in our society where we really get to see other people’s secret lives. Things spill out in criminal trials that people wouldn’t reveal to their psychiatrists or best friends. We get to see human nature uncensored. The mask is ripped off. Hypocrisies are revealed. Double lives are exposed.
HLN: How does the Jodi Arias trial compare to others you’ve covered for HLN?
JVM: The Jodi Arias trial is one of the most fascinating cases I’ve ever covered. It has all the most riveting elements: A secret sex life filled with kinky behavior, an S&M relationship and -- perhaps most intriguing of all -- a pathological liar as a defendant. Jodi Arias lies with the best of them and this gives us an insight into how liars work. For them the truth is a dead issue. For them the truth is… whatever works for them at that moment. They know how to blend truth and lies together so that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. This trial offers an advanced course in how to spot and expose liars in our own lives. Tragically, a promising young man died.
Watch Jane Velez-Mitchell weeknights at 7 p.m. ET on HLN.