Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

OJ lawyers in bid for new trial

OJ Simpson in court during his sentencing hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Centre in Las Vegas (AP)
OJ Simpson in court during his sentencing hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Centre in Las Vegas (AP)

OJ Simpson's lawyers are asking a three-judge Nevada Supreme Court panel to reconsider whether the former football star should get a new trial following his armed robbery and kidnapping conviction in Las Vegas.

Yale Galanter asserted in a request for rehearing that the justices overlooked or misunderstood several key arguments - including that the former football star lacked the necessary intent to commit a crime, that the last two black prospective jurors were dismissed without proper cause, and that jurors were not completely screened for bias.

Before trial in 2008, the judge got 500 potential jurors to fill out 26-page questionnaires which included questions about Simpson's 1995 acquittal over the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles.

Half the Las Vegas jury pool was eliminated after expressing strong feelings about Simpson's guilt in that case.

"This court fully understands Simpson's name is shorthand for murder," Mr Galanter wrote, citing a reference in the court panel's October 22 opinion granting a new trial to convicted Simpson co-defendant, Clarence "CJ" Stewart.

That opinion was separate from the 24-page denial of Simpson's appeal. Simpson, 63, is serving nine to 33 years in Nevada state prison in Lovelock, east of Reno.

"This court goes on to say that 'there is a significant indication that the general public views the former football great as a criminal'," Mr Galanter wrote in his request for a rehearing.

He alleges that Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass abused her discretion in denying defence attempts to ask prospective jurors "probing questions" that Mr Galanter said were "necessary and required under the law".

"The trial court would not permit challenges for cause of prospective jurors who thought Simpson was a murderer, or that he did it," Mr Galanter wrote.

Through her clerk, Judge Glass declined to comment.

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