"All grounds in the petition lack merit and, consequently, are
denied," Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell said in her
Simpson's lawyer Patricia Palm said she spoke briefly with the
former football star from prison, and said he was disappointed but
would appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court. Simpson's new defense team
argued that his original lawyers botched his case.
"We're confident that when we get to the right court we'll get
relief because he deserves relief, because he didn't get a fair
trial," Palm told The Associated Press.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson, whose wife was the
judge who presided over the Simpson 2008 trial, called Bell's ruling
the right decision.
"I believe Mr. Simpson received a fair trial and had more than
competent counsel," Wolfson said.
If the 66-year-old Simpson loses his appeal to the state high court,
he could take the case to federal courts to argue his constitutional
right to effective counsel was violated.
Simpson was found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and other
charges in what he said was an attempt to retrieve memorabilia and
personal items from two sports collectibles dealers in a casino
Simpson was sentenced to nine to 33 years in Nevada state prison but
was granted parole on some convictions in July, meaning he must
serve at least four more years locked up.
Simpson's conviction came 13 years to the day after the former movie
and TV star was acquitted in the Los Angeles "trial of the century"
in the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her
friend Ronald Goldman. Six years later, a jury in Miami acquitted
him of all charges in a Florida road rage case.
Simpson's legal defense in his Las Vegas trial was headed by Yale
Galanter, the Miami-based attorney who represented him in the 2001
road rage case. Attorney Gabriel Grasso served with Galanter as
co-counsel in Las Vegas.
Galanter, who testified during Simpson's five-day habeas corpus
hearing in May, said he felt vindicated.
"As O.J.'s lawyer and confidante, it was gut-wrenching for me to
have to be in a position to defend my strategy and efforts on his
behalf as his lawyer and testify against my client," Galanter said
by telephone. "If I did what their legal team says I did, the first
thing O.J. should have said to me was, 'Hey I'm in jail and it's
because of you. Go screw yourself.'"
Bell's 101-page ruling rejected arguments that Simpson received
inadequate legal representation.
"Mr. Simpson's convictions stem from serious offenses," she wrote.
The judge noted the involvement of six co-conspirators and weeks of
[to top of second column]
"Mr. Simpson specifically asked two of his
co-conspirators to bring weapons ... to show the sellers he meant
business," she said. And the two memorabilia dealers were "lured
into a small hotel room" where they were surprised by Simpson's
The judge considered a 94-page petition for a new
Simpson's new legal team — Palm, Ozzie Fumo and Tom Pitaro — said
they believed they presented overwhelming evidence that Galanter
knew of Simpson's plan, had conflicted interests that shaped the way
he handled the case, and that Simpson didn't get a fair trial.
They said Galanter failed to hire an investigator or have experts
examine crucial evidence, including audio tapes that jurors later
said convinced them of Simpson's guilt.
Simpson's lawyers sought to show that Galanter advised Simpson it
was OK to take back his items and should have stepped aside so he
could be called as a witness for Simpson's defense.
Instead, they said, Galanter advised Simpson not to testify and
reached a pretrial agreement with prosecutors not to enter evidence
into the trial record of phone calls that raised questions about
whether he had knowledge of the heist.
Finally, Simpson's legal team said that by handling the appeal,
Galanter nearly precluded Simpson from ever arguing he had
A shackled Simpson spent an entire day in May testifying for the
first time in the case. Simpson, noticeably grayer and heavier after
five years in prison, said he believes Galanter misled him,
including telling him it was OK to retrieve the family photos and
memorabilia he thought had been stolen from him after his acquittal
in Los Angeles in 1995.
Simpson said Galanter advised him that it was his
legal right to retrieve personal items as long as no force was used
and no one trespassed.
"It was my stuff," Simpson said. "I followed what I thought was the
law. My lawyer told me I couldn't break into a guy's room. I didn't
break into anybody's room. I didn't try to muscle the guys."
During his parole hearing in July, Simpson said he was sorry for his
actions and said he had made amends with the two memorabilia
"I just wish I never went to that room," Simpson said.
Galanter dramatically contradicted Simpson's account. He testified
he was surprised when Simpson told him that he and several other men
were planning a "sting" the next morning.
The attorney denied giving Simpson the go-ahead to try to retrieve
Press; KEN RITTER]
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