News Column

O.J. Simpson May Take Stand in Bid for New Trial

May 13, 2013

O.J. Simpson will receive a change of scenery this week -- a Las Vegas courtroom rather than a prison cell in Northern Nevada.

The former football star's name once dominated headlines, but that largely subsided in 2008 when a Clark County jury found him guilty of robbery and kidnapping charges. Simpson was sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison.

But on Monday, with Simpson beside them, his new lawyers will begin arguments seeking a retrial. Simpson is expected to testify Wednesday, according to his defense attorneys, Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo.

"I think we have a lot of evidence in our favor," Palm said. "I believe in my heart that he didn't get a fair trial."

Simpson was convicted of a dozen charges related to the Sept. 13, 2007, incident in which he and a group of men -- including two armed with guns -- forcefully entered a Palace Station hotel room to retrieve memorabilia.

In October 2012, Clark County District Judge Linda Bell granted the evidentiary hearing that will take place this week and agreed to consider 18 of 22 "grounds for relief" listed in Simpson's appeal for a new trial.

The bulk of questions raised in the 94-page court document revolve around Simpson's assertions that his lead trial attorney, Yale Galanter, provided ineffective counsel and had a conflict of interest.

In the appeal, Simpson alleges Galanter provided advice about the plan to retrieve the memorabilia for several weeks, including the night before the incident while they had dinner at the Palms.

"Simpson further asserts that Galanter advised him that this plan was legally permissible so long as there would be no trespassing and no physical force used against the persons with the property," according to the petition for writ of habeas corpus filed in May 2012.

Simpson's plan to take the stand during the evidentiary hearing relates to one of the questions raised in the appeal. Simpson did not testify at his 2008 trial, a decision he alleges was based on bogus advice from Galanter.

The appeal states the prosecution provided "sufficient evidence" for possible conviction, which could have been challenged by Simpson's testimony.

Simpson will turn 66 in July. After a celebrated college and professional football career, he dominated the media spotlight in the mid-1990s when a jury acquitted him of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Simpson's Las Vegas trial in 2008, however, put him back in the spotlight. Now, he is serving his prison term at Lovelock Correctional Center, about 330 miles north of Las Vegas.

Palm said Simpson often expresses how much he misses his four children and would like to be near them, but he is cautiously optimistic going into the evidentiary hearing.

"I don't think he wants to get his hopes up," she said. "He realizes he is O.J. Simpson."

The defense likely will call 10 witnesses for the evidentiary hearing, which Palm and Fumo expect to last all week.

The Clark County District Attorney's Office declined to comment about the hearing. Opposing the retrial request will be Chief Deputy District Attorney Leon Simon and Deputy District Attorney Leah Beverly.

This isn't Simpson's first attempt at regaining freedom. In 2011, the Nevada Supreme Court rejected Simpson's appeal that his convictions should be overturned.

Last year, Simpson's other trial defense attorney, Gabriel Grasso, filed a lawsuit against Galanter alleging breach of contract. In the lawsuit, Grasso claims Galanter, a Florida-based attorney, never paid him his $250,000 cut they allegedly agreed upon when Grasso began assisting as local counsel.

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(c)2013 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)

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Source: Copyright Las Vegas Sun (NV) 2013


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