LAS VEGAS (AP) — O.J. Simpson's former lawyer's work is expected to again draw withering criticism Tuesday in a Las Vegas courtroom where the imprisoned former football star and his new attorneys are trying to convince a Nevada judge that Simpson deserves a new trial.
The 65-year-old Simpson arrived in court Monday in shackles and prison clothing — grayer and heavier than when he was hauled off to prison in 2008 to serve a minimum nine-year sentence. But he briefly flashed a smile for family members and friends in the second row.
The focus on the first day of the five-day hearing was on promises and performance by Simpson's Miami-based lawyer Yale Galanter during the 2008 trial and conviction that got Simpson nine to 33 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping for a hotel room confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers.
Galanter's trial co-counsel, Gabriel Grasso, testified that Galanter took money for himself, didn't pay Grasso, and refused to pay for experts to analyze crucial audio recordings that helped convict Simpson.
"Hey Gabe. Wanna be famous?" Grasso recalled Galanter asking as the two embarked on a relationship that has since deteriorated into lawsuits over a handshake agreement represent Simpson and split an expected $750,000 in legal fees one-third for Grasso and two-thirds for Galanter.
Grasso said he was only paid $15,000 while the weight of pretrial work fell to him.
He said Galanter kept telling him that he didn't have money to hire investigators or an expert to analyze crucial audio recordings that were later played for the Simpson jury.
"I don't think it was in Mr. Simpson's best interest," Grasso testified." In a case of this magnitude, we had no help. The state had a jury consultant. Did we? No."
Galanter is expected to take the witness stand on Friday. He declined comment Monday.
Attorneys for the state, H. Leon Simon and Leah Beverly, are expected to cross-examine Grasso on Tuesday.
Simpson attorney Patricia Palm played a videotape of Galanter telling the trial judge he wouldn't oppose the use of the recordings because, "We looked at them. We had experts look at every word. We had maybe six or seven words we objected to."
Grasso said there were no experts. Instead, Grasso listened to all of the tapes with a computer program set up by his 15-year-old son — sometimes while watching his son's soccer games.
Grasso also recalled his answer when Simpson asked him if he was going to get a chance to testify.
"Hell yes!" Galanter said he responded.
But Galanter blocked the move, Grasso said, and Simpson never told his own story to the jury.
Simpson is scheduled to testify for the first time in the case on Wednesday.
Grasso said that while Galanter told him he'd talk with Simpson about a proposed plea deal, he never told Grasso why he rejected it. Grasso said he didn't know if Simpson was even told.
Simpson, who will be 70 before he is eligible for parole, maintains that he wasn't.
Grasso said he believed Simpson never saw guns in the cramped hotel room where Simpson and five other men confronted two collectibles dealers and a man who arranged the meeting.
Simpson maintained he was trying to recover personal items stolen from him after his acquittal in 1995 in the Los Angeles slaying his wife and her friend.
Simpson was later found liable for damages in a civil wrongful death lawsuit and ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
- Crime & Justice
- Yale Galanter