Lawyers wrapped up O.J. Simpson’s post-conviction hearing Friday after a week of testimony, but they expect to wait another two to four weeks to learn whether he will be granted a new trial in his robbery case.
District Judge Linda Bell adjourned the hearing late Friday afternoon and said she would issue a written decision as soon as possible.
“She’s very conscientious, and she’s got a lot to go through,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Leon Simon later said.
The judge said Simpson, who has been held at the Clark County Detention Center during the hearing, would return to the Nevada prison system while awaiting her ruling.
After the hearing, Simpson attorney Patricia Palm said the evidence to support Simpson’s claims “was overwhelming.”
“We think we had five days in a row that were just awesome,” Palm told reporters gathered outside the courthouse.
Simpson’s bid for a new trial centers around his claim that he received ineffective assistance from his trial lawyer, Yale Galanter, who testified for a full day Friday.
During his testimony, Galanter refuted the notorious football player’s claims that he had misadvised him. Galanter also said Simpson knew guns were used in the 2007 robbery.
Galanter testified that he never told Simpson that he could legally take his property back. Instead, Galanter said, he advised Simpson to call the police.
The Miami-based defense attorney reluctantly added that Simpson knew his cohorts were armed when they went to Palace Station to recover his family heirlooms and sports memorabilia.
“He knew he had screwed up,” Galanter recalled. “He knew there were guns in the room.”
Bell will be the ultimate arbiter of who is telling the truth in the case and whether Galanter had a conflict of interest.
Simpson, 65, is serving a nine- to 33-year prison term after he was convicted of robbing two men of sports memorabilia in September 2007. He argued he was simply recovering his own property, including photographs, when he went to the Palace Station hotel room.
Galanter won an acquittal for Simpson in a 2001 road rage incident in Florida.
But following his 2008 conviction and rejected appeal in the Las Vegas robbery, Simpson began to question Galanter’s motivation for representing him.
According to testimony, Galanter pocketed $572,000 from Simpson while representing him in the robbery case. The lawyer was supposed to use part of the money to provide for a proper defense, which included hiring investigators and experts.
Testimony has shown that Galanter wouldn’t hire experts or investigators or fully pay his Las Vegas-based co-counsel, Gabe Grasso, who is suing Galanter in federal court over nonpayment for his work in the case.
Simpson testified that Galanter had told him he’d work for free in the case.
Galanter denied that.
“No, I don’t do anything for free,” he said.
Grasso wanted to work for free, Galanter said, but he insisted on paying him $25,000 plus costs. Grasso testified that he was only paid $15,000.
Galanter testified that there was no need to hire investigators to profile witnesses because he had cross-examined them during a preliminary hearing.
He added that the defense strategy was to allow all the audio recordings of the robbery to come in as evidence because the word “gun” was never mentioned.
An intoxication defense wasn’t considered because “Mr. Simpson wasn’t intoxicated,” Galanter said.
Simpson testified this week that he had consumed enough alcohol before the incident that he wouldn’t consider driving a car.
He also said Galanter never informed him of plea deal discussions he had with prosecutors, deals he said he would have considered.
But Galanter refuted that claim, explaining that Simpson was fully aware of the discussions with prosecutors.
Veteran Las Vegas defense attorney Tom Pitaro handled the cross-examination, which quickly deteriorated into verbal sparring with Galanter.
The judge at one point admonished both lawyers, saying, “Both of you stop.”
Pitaro quizzed Galanter on the appeal budget he sent to Simpson’s trust fund manager. The budget did not include how much Galanter was to be paid, but included costs for video recordings, a video montage and investigators, among other things.
Galanter agreed that whatever money was not spent would be used to pay him.
He then admitted that money was never spent on video recordings, the montage or investigators.
“It went into your pocket and not for Mr. Simpson’s benefit,” Pitaro said.
Galanter said there was nothing secret about what he’d done.
“I don’t think I could have fought harder or done more,” Galanter said.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-384-8710.