O.J. Simpson is back in court again—this time 4 years after his conviction for the September, 2007 robbery where he was sentenced to 33 years in jail in 2008. And he lost his appeal in 2010. So his present maneuver to get a new trial may be his last one. He is apparently eligible for parole in 2017. At age 65, without a Hail Mary to get out, he could end up dying in jail. O.J. Simpson testified in his hearing on Wednesday for a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. They say a cat has nine lives and O.J. Simpson might be trying to compete with the lives of a cat.
His petition for writ of habeas corpus based on ineffective assistance of counsel has 19 arguments. It seems as if his present attorney is throwing everything up against the wall and hoping that something will stick. And if it were not for the bias against O.J. Simpson due to his acquittal of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder, he might be able to win his argument. He only needs one successful argument in order to win a new trial.
The case stems from the 2007 robbery of dealers in a hotel room in Las Vegas who Simpson said were trying to sell items that were stolen from him. Simpson did not testify at his trial for armed robbery, although he claimed out of court that he did not know the other co-conspirators were bringing guns to the hotel room. Simpson was not armed. But Simpson claimed in 2008 and now that his lead attorney, Yale Galanter advised him in advance that he was within his rights to take goods and property that he believed were stolen from him. Ironically or maybe not so ironic, the armed co-conspirators are no longer serving any jail time. Four of the co-conspirators pleaded guilty and testified against Simpson. Clarence “C.J.” Stewart faced a jury conviction alongside Simpson but later was granted a new trial after his conviction and given probation. Simpson is the only one serving jail time.
So this time he’s arguing ineffective assistance of counsel which is heard before a judge and not a jury. It will be decided by Judge Linda Marie Bell. It is rare for a defendant to win on a post trial conviction motion based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Yet, in the case of O.J. Simspon, the case seems to warrant some merit.
First, he alleges that his attorney was in Las Vegas on the day of the robbery and that they had contact prior to the incident. In fact, O.J. says he had dinner with his attorney the night before the incident. While O.J. Is not one to believe, there are some facts to show that his lead attorney, Galanter and the prosecutor may have wrongfully stipulated events to the trial judge. At the robbery trial, the prosecutor and the defense attorney entered into an agreement that there were no phone calls between the defense attorney and O.J. in the days leading up to the robbery. The prosecutor now states that was not true.
One newspaper account states, “the other prosecutor, Chris Owens, testified about discovering phone calls between the two but hiding that fact from the judge. He identified at least 10 calls in the days preceding and on Sept. 13, 2007.”
Both prosecutors described an agreement with the Simpson defense that was read to the jury saying there were no calls. This bears on whether O.J. relied on statements by his attorney in entering the hotel room to retrieve the items which he believed to be stolen from him
Yet most troubling is the assertion that O.J. Simpson may not have been provided with the details of any plea bargain. Failure to advise a client of a plea bargain would amount to ineffective assistance of counsel. Mr. Galanter, the lead attorney is expected to testify on Friday. Since the hearing harbors on the non-assistance or ineffective assistance of counsel, the attorney client privilege is waived by O.J. in asserting his claim. This means that his former attorney may testify about any and all statements that his former client told him. There are always two sides to any story. And on Friday, at least one other side of the story will be told.