Updated at 2:09 p.m. EDT
Claiming that he received poor legal representation at his 2008 trial, O.J. Simpson appeared in a Nevada court room to argue that his conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping should be overturned and that a new trial should be held.
Simpson, 65, is serving 9 to 33 years in a Nevada prison for a Las Vegas hotel-room raid in which he and several other men attempted to retrieve memorabilia he claimed had been stolen from him. Linda Greenhouse of the Associated Press calls a motion like Simpson’s a “Hail Mary” with little chance of success, but this is Simpson we’re talking about.
“Nothing is the same when O.J. is involved,” Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson told Greenhouse. “An O.J. case is never like any other case.”
Flanked by guards, Simpson arrived in the Las Vegas courtroom in handcuffs and a blue jail uniform. The cuffs were later removed, but photos showed him chained to a chair. He has gained weight and his hair has turned white since his incarceration.
On the first day of the hearing, which is expected to last five days, a friend described Simpson’s former lawyer, Yale Galanter, as “somewhat dismissive” of his client’s concerns during the trial.
“Mr. Simpson was …somewhat intimidated by Mr. Galanter. He was dominated by him. He tended not to question what he told him,” James Barnett, a Las Vegas businessman, testified Monday (via NBC News).
“If Mr. Simpson would ask about some specific point in court, he would say, ‘That’s not important’ or ‘Don’t worry about it.’”
Simpson contends that he was never told that a plea bargain was on the table and said in a statement (via the Los Angeles Times) that the lawyer “advised me that I was within my legal rights” to attempt the memorabilia sting. From Greenhouse:
Simpson, according to trial testimony, 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, including family pictures. It was to be a sting of sorts, in which the memorabilia dealers would think an anonymous buyer was coming.
When Simpson walked into the Las Vegas hotel room, he realized he knew the sellers from previous dealings and he accused them of stealing from him. He shouted that no one was to leave the room – an action that would be judged to fit the legal definition of kidnapping. As Simpson’s guys began bagging up the memorabilia, one of them pulled a gun, according to trial testimony.
No one was injured, but the sellers called the police – and another Simpson case for another century was launched.
It turned out that Tom Riccio, another memorabilia dealer who played middleman between Simpson and the sellers, had planted a tape recorder in the hotel room and the tape, played for jurors, was powerful evidence.
Simpson’s cohorts testified against him, including the man who said he brought a gun. They were an odd assortment of down-on-their luck Vegas characters who received plea deals and were set free on probation.
In a 1995 trial, Simpson was found not guilty of killing his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman, although a jury in a civil lawsuit found differently in 1996. Simpson, who would be eligible for parole when he’s 70, has changed during his incarceration.