Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

OJ Simpson in court bid for freedom

OJ Simpson has begun an appeal against his robbery conviction (AP)

A weary-looking OJ Simpson, weighed down by shackles and more than four years in prison, shuffled into a Las Vegas courtroom on Monday hoping eventually to walk out a free man.

His arrival to ask for a new trial in the armed robbery and kidnapping case that sent him to prison could be heard before he was seen - as a loud rattling of the chains that bound his hands to his waist and restrained his feet.

After the 65-year-old Simpson was seated, a guard removed his handcuffs and clicked them onto the chair arms next to him.

The once glamorous football star and actor was subdued in his dingy blue prison uniform. Greyer and heavier, he briefly flashed a smile and mouthed a greeting to people he recognised before being stopped by a bailiff.

Simpson's drab appearance contrasted with the fancy clothing he wore during his historic, high-profile 1995 murder trial in Los Angeles in which he was acquitted of slaying his wife and her friend.

Simpson was later found liable for damages in a civil wrongful death lawsuit and ordered to pay 33.5 million dollars (£22 million) to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Simpson listened intently as his lawyers tried to make the case that he had poor legal representation in the trial involving the gunpoint robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in 2007 in a Las Vegas hotel room. Of the 22 allegations of conflict-of-interest and ineffective counsel his lawyers raised, Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell has agreed to hear 19.

Simpson has said his former lawyer, Yale Galanter, had rejected appropriate defence moves and even met Simpson the night before the heist to bless the plan as long as no one trespassed and no force was used.

Mr Galanter was paid nearly 700,000 dollars (£460,000) 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 he deserves a new trial, lawyers for Simpson claim.

Simpson is expected to testify on Tuesday and say Mr Galanter advised him that he was within his rights to retrieve family pictures and footballs being sold by memorabilia dealers. Mr Galanter has declined to comment before his scheduled court appearance on Friday.

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