Grayer O.J. Simpson returns to Vegas court
LAS VEGAS — The shackles and blue prison garb seemed to weigh down O.J. Simpson as he returned to a Las Vegas courtroom on Monday to ask for a new trial in the armed robbery-kidnapping case that sent him to prison in 2008.
Looking grayer and heavier, the 65-year-old former football star and TV pitchman was flanked by guards as he nodded and raised his eyebrows to acknowledge people he recognized in the audience.
A marshal had warned onlookers not to try to communicate with Simpson, and no words were exchanged.
Still, a close friend saw a flash of the old, magnetic Simpson personality.
“Not much muscle tone,” observed Sherman White, a former NFL defensive lineman, teammate and friend of Simpson since they played for the Buffalo Bills. “But you saw a little of the O.J. pizzazz when he came in.”
Simpson's drab appearance contrasted with the fancy clothing he wore during his acquittal in his high-profile 1995 murder trial in Los Angeles. The suit he wore then is part of a Newseum exhibit in Washington.
Simpson conferred with his lawyers and listened intently to testimony from his daughter, Arnelle Simpson, and other witnesses.
More than four years into a minimum nine-year prison term, Simpson will be in court all week to claim that he had poor legal representation in the trial involving the gunpoint robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in 2007 in a Las Vegas hotel room.
The courtroom was partly empty, and an overflow room with closed-circuit hookups wasn't needed.
Simpson hopes a new set of lawyers can persuade a judge that lawyer Yale Galanter, who represented him in the robbery case, had conflicted interests.
In a sworn statement outlining what he intends to say on the stand, Simpson said Galanter knew ahead of time about his plan to retrieve from the memorabilia dealers what he thought were personal mementoes.
Simpson said Galanter never told him a plea deal was on the table.
Galanter was paid nearly $700,000 for Simpson's defense but had a personal interest in preventing himself from being identified as a witness to the crimes, and he misled Simpson so much that the former football star deserves a new trial, lawyers for Simpson claim.
“To me, the claims are solid. I don't know how the court can't grant relief,” said Patricia Palm, the Simpson appeals lawyer who produced a 94-page petition dissecting Galanter's promises, payments and performance in the trial that ended with a jury finding Simpson and a co-defendant guilty of 12 felonies.
Of the 22 allegations of conflict of interest and ineffective counsel that Palm raised, Clark County District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell has agreed to hear 19.
It was not clear when Bell would rule on the new-trial request.
Galanter, who is scheduled to testify on Friday, has declined comment before his court appearance.