O.J. - The Defense Punts

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SANTA MONICA, Calif: O.J. Simpson took everyone by surprise Tuesday, stepping down from the witness stand without taking questions from his own attorney after two brutal days of cross examination by lawyers for the plaintiffs. Defense attorney Robert Baker's surprising decision to put off his chance to ask sympathetic questions of Simpson until next month leaves the jury to reflect on two days of withering attacks on Simpson's credibility without the expected screen that the defense might have provided in its own line of questioning. Responding to criticism of his strategy, Baker told reporters, "There's a lot of people .. who think they can read the minds of the jurors. We'll see what they say." After Baker made his unexpected announcement, Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki adjourned the court for the Thanksgiving holiday and warned the jury not to discuss the case with friends or family. The caveat carried a particularly harsh edge as Fujisaki was forced just two hours before to remove a female juror for allegedly attempting to "contact" an attorney involved in the case. In a scene redolent of the Simpson murder trial, the juror, Ann-Marie Jamison, hired an agent and was booked on a national morning talk show soon after the dismissal. The juror picked to replace Jamison is a 20-year-old white female. The change leaves the jury's ethnic makeup unchanged with nine whites, one black, one Hispanic and one person of a black and Asian background.