O.J. Heads To Court. Again.

Lawyer Andrew Cohen analyzes legal affairs for CBS News and CBSNews.com.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
I'm sure that millions of America this week will find it fascinating to see and hear a whole new generation of O.J. Simpson's attorneys cross-examining hapless prosecution witnesses. And we all know the cable channels will flip out with overblown and odious coverage. But unless my CBS bosses know something that I don't know, I have no plans to attend O.J. Simpson's preliminary hearing—already labeled as "the largest preliminary hearing in southern Nevada history"-- which begins tomorrow morning in Las Vegas.

The hearing is neither legally significant—a botched robbery n Las Vegas, go figure!—nor likely to generate any sort of astonishing (or astonishingly complex) legal developments. No one is likely to identify in court the name of JonBenet Ramsey's murderer or tell us where Natalie Holloway may be or who killed Chandra Levy. Michael Jackson won't appear, David Copperfield certainly won't, and Paris Hilton hasn't been to Vegas in, what, a few weeks?

Simpson himself won't testify and the defense already has said publicly that it does not intend to call any of its own witnesses. This is standard practice at preliminary hearings, where prosecutors have to convince a judge that there is enough evidence—probable cause-- to merit a full-blown trial before a jury. So what we'll see later this week is defense attorneys trying to savage the accuracy and credibility of prosecution witnesses.

From what we already know about this merry gang—and by that I mean both alleged perpetrators and purported victims—the cross-examinations under oath aren't just likely to give the defense a free preview of the prosecution's case. They'll also no doubt generate their share of hilariously inept testimony and confusing narratives about what did and did not happen, and why, in that memorabilia-filled hotel room earlier this year. But this is small beer and certainly not the stuff likely to generate bulletin-worthy material.

Remember, too, that there is little true mystery to the latest case of The People v. Orenthal James Simpson. We pretty much know what he did in that room. We know many of the plans that preceded the act. We know what positions the various parties are taking. Indeed, there barely are any undisputed facts that do not have to do with the intent and motives of the people involved. Ultimately, motive and intent, the particulars of the mind, are what a new Simpson trial would be about if it ever comes to pass (which I doubt, by the way).

The just-disclosed FBI-angle to this story—the notion that the FBI was told of Simpson's alleged plan in advance but didn't do anything to stop it-- is an interesting ripple in the story. But it is not a ripple that is likely to be smoothed out during this hearing. You can be pretty sure that prosecutors aren't going to call any FBI agents to the witness stand (they'll be defense witnesses, of course). And you also can make book on the fact that the prosecution witnesses who do testify during the preliminary hearing likely will offer the Sgt. Schultz defense when asked about pre-robbery FBI involvement ("I know nothing, I see nothing").

Watch. Now that I've downplayed the whole thing there will be a stunning in-court moment that beggars immediate and on-site analysis and commentary. Prosecutors will announce a global settlement and plea deal. Simpson will break down and confess to something no one has even accused him of doing. Or the judge will throw the whole shebang out of his court. When it comes to Simpson, and the constellation of chaos that follows him, nothing would truly surprise me. But this week that's a risk I'm willing to take.