Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

OJ Simpson bidding for new trial

OJ Simpson is starting an appeal against his robbery conviction (AP)
OJ Simpson is starting an appeal against his robbery conviction (AP)

OJ Simpson is back in a Las Vegas courtroom to ask for a new trial in the armed robbery and kidnapping case that sent him to prison in 2008.

The former American football hero and a new set of lawyers hope to convince a judge that trial lawyer Yale Galanter had a conflict of interests and should not have handled Simpson's case.

Simpson appeared in court on Monday wearing a blue jail uniform. His hair was short and greyer than it was during a previous court appearance in 2008. He entered the courtroom in handcuffs, flanked by guards and nodded and raised his eyebrows to acknowledge people he recognised in the second row.

A marshal had warned people in the audience not to try to communicate with Simpson and no words were exchanged. He is due to give evidence on Wednesday, and Mr Galanter is scheduled for Friday

Simpson - who is serving nine to 33 years in a Nevada prison - says Mr Galanter knew ahead of time about his plan to retrieve what he thought were personal mementoes from two sports memorabilia dealers at a casino hotel room in September 2007.

Simpson also said his lawyer never told him a plea deal was on the table. Mr Galanter was paid nearly 700,000 dollars for Simpson's defence but had a personal interest in preventing himself from being identified as a witness to the crimes and misled Simpson so much that the former star deserves a new trial, lawyers for Simpson claim.

"To me, the claims are solid. I don't know how the court can't grant relief," said Patricia Palm, the Simpson appeals lawyer who produced a 94-page petition dissecting Mr Galanter's promises, payments and performance in the trial that ended with a jury finding Simpson and a co-defendant guilty of 12 offences.

Of the 22 allegations of conflict of interest and ineffective counsel that Ms Palm raised, District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell has agreed to hear 19.

The five-day proceedings are technically neither a trial nor appeal. There will be no opening statements. The judge will listen to testimony before deciding whether Simpson deserves a new trial. It is not clear whether Judge Bell will rule immediately.

Simpson maintains the plan was to take back what he expected would be family photos and personal belongings stolen from him after his 1995 "trial of the century" acquittal over the murders of his wife and her friend in Los Angeles. Simpson was later found liable for damages in a civil wrongful death lawsuit and ordered to pay 33.5 million dollars to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

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