O J Simpson is in court today appealing his 2008 conviction for robbery and kidnapping overturned on the grounds that he did not receive proper legal representation at his trial.
Simpson is currently serving 9 to 33 years in prison for his role in a hotel room robbery that the former actor and football star claimed was to get back personal memorabilia that had been stolen form him. He has filed what lawyers call a “Hail Mary motion” seeking freedom. Simpson says that his conviction should be set aside and a new trial ordered because of “ineffective counsel and conflict of interest.
Simpson is now represented by Patricia Palm, who contends that claims against John Galanter, Simpson’s former lawyer, “are solid.” Galanter is due to testify at the new hearing and has declined to comment on the case.
Simpson says that Galanter knew ahead of time about his plan to retrieve what he thought were personal mementos, and that the lawyer met with him in Las Vegas to discuss the plan the night before the athlete and five other men went into a casino hotel room to confronttwo sports memorabilia dealers and a middleman in September 2007.
Simpson claims that he had no idea that two of the men were carrying guns.
Simpson claims he only wanted to retrieve items that he felt were family photos and personal belongings stolen after his 1995 acquittal in the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles.
Galanter blessed the plan as within the law, as long as no one trespassed and no force was used, Simpson said.
During the 2008 trial, Simpson maintains that Galanter vigorously discouraged him from testifying, and never told him that prosecutors were willing to let him plead guilty to lesser charges for a minimum sentence of two years.
In a sworn affidavit Simpson declared that Galanter, “consistently told me the state could not prove its case because I acted within my rights in retaking my own property.”
Simpson has so far filed 19 claims of ineffective counsel and attorney conflict of interest in the 2008 case. He also said in a sworn statement that the same attorney knew about the memorabilia sting before it happened and that “he advised me that I was within my legal rights.”
Simpson is expected to testify sometime during the week-long hearing. Simpson is now 65 years old and he has already spent the last four years in prison and must serve, at a minimum, at least nine years of his maximum 33-year sentence before he can be considered eligible for parole. As Simpson will be 70 by then, if he doesn’t win a new trial, he could conceivably spend the rest of his life behind bars.
For the record; the events of September 2007 were, from Simpson’s own 2008 trial testimony, as follows: Simpson organized a posse of five friends and acquaintances to accompany him to a hotel where he was told some men were trying to sell his mementos which included personal family pictures. It was meant to be a “sting” operation where the memorabilia dealers would think an anonymous buyer was coming.
When Simpson walked into the Las Vegas hotel room, he realised that he knew the sellers personally from previous dealings and he accused them of stealing his things. He shouted that no one was to leave the room; an action that would result in his kidnapping conviction. Then as Simpson’s little group began to gather up the memorabilia, one of them pulled a gun.
Luckily no one was harmed, but after O J and his pals left, the sellers rang the police. It remains to be seen whether he will be successful in his appeal.
By Michael Smith