O.J. Simpson is back in court

O.J. Simpson is back in court trying to get a new trial in the hopes of reversing his 2008 conviction. Photo: O.J. Simpson

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2013 - O.J. Simpson is back in court seeking a new trial.  The 65 year old former football star is serving nine to thirty three years in a Nevada prison after a 2008 conviction of robbery and the kidnapping of two memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

In 2007, a group of men led by Simpson broke into a hotel room carrying guns and took a collection of O.J. Simpson signed footballs, photos and other collectables.

O.J’s co-defendants plea bargained and agreed to testify against Simpson, whereas Simpson faced a possible life in prison on the kidnapping charge as well as mandatory prison time for the armed robbery charge.

Simpson was sentenced to thirty three years in prison with the possibility of parole in 2017 after nine years.

O.J. Simpson has always maintained that the memorabilia was rightfully his and he was just taking it back.

On October 19, 2012 a Nevada judge agreed to reopen the armed robbery and kidnapping case against O.J. Simpson to determine if the former football star was so badly represented by his lawyers that he should be freed from prison and get another trial.

The hearing to determine if Simpson should receive a new trial started this week.

Simpson wants a new trial because he says his longtime lawyer from Miami, Yale Galanter, failed to disclose that he knew about the plan in advance, and that he told Simpson it was legal, therefore providing bad advice at trial.

The proceeding, called a writ of habeas corpus, is not a trial. Clark County District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell plans to hear five days of testimony beginning Monday on 19 separate claims of ineffective representation of counsel and conflict of interest. Simpson has to prove his lawyers botched his trial and the outcome could have been different with better representation. 

Although the Nevada Supreme Court denied Simpson’s appeal in 2010, Simpson now maintains that by Galanter handling his appeal and oral arguments, the lawyer blocked Simpson from claiming Galanter had conflicted interests. This argument was compelling enough to Judge Bell for her to award the hearing.

The high-profile trial was not Simpson’s first. In 1995, he was acquitted in Los Angeles of murdering his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. In a subsequent civil trial, Simpson was found liable for civil damages of $33.5 million.

The civil case was the only time Simpson testified in open court.

Now Simpson is expected to testify again. He is expected to take the stand on Wednesday although the timing could be in doubt based on the length of other testimony. It will be the first time the public will hear his explanation of the caper that led to his incarceration. He still maintains he did not know that two of the five men with him that night at the Palace Station hotel brought guns.

 Simpson’s four co-defendants pleaded guilty to felonies, testified for the prosecution and got off with probation. Clarence “C.J.” Stewart was convicted with Simpson and served more than two years in prison before the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Simpson’s fame tainted Stewart’s conviction. Stewart was granted a new trial but avoided retrial by pleading guilty to two felonies and was freed. He’s now living in Louisiana.

 On Tuesday, the second day of the hearing, O.J. Simpson won a small victory when Judge Bell allowed Simpson to have his right hand free of shackles in order to drink water and take notes. His left hand remains in cuffs.

 In court Simpson looks older and more worn than when he went into prison 4 ½ years ago. His hair has turned gray and he looks as though he has gained weight. If nothing changes from this hearing, O.J. Simpson will not be eligible for parole until he is 70 years old.

 


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Susan L Ruth

Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community.  She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community.  Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. 

Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.

 

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