'O.J.'s lawyer' stays busy in limelight

MIAMI -- Despite decades toiling as a Florida prosecutor and defense attorney, Yale Galanter has become "O.J.'s lawyer" and has parlayed that to become a frequent legal analyst for TV, newspapers and magazines.

But he's still a long way from the fame of the "Dream Team" that represented Simpson when he was acquitted in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey and Robert Shapiro were all nationally known before being hired by Simpson.

Not so Galanter. He occasionally made TV appearances, but he was far from famous.

"Galanter is known as O.J.'s lawyer. And being his lawyer keeps Galanter extremely busy," said attorney David O. Markus, president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Even before the current robbery and kidnapping accusations in Las Vegas, Galanter represented Simpson in Florida in a road rage incident; a ticket Simpson got for speeding a boat through a manatee zone; and accusations that he pirated satellite TV signals.

"He's a good-looking guy who likes to see himself in the paper," said Miami defense attorney Milton Hirsch, who has known Galanter for 25 years since both worked as Miami-Dade prosecutors. "He likes to associate himself with cases that get press attention, and the one client who has consistently provided that for him is O.J."

Yet Galanter insisted after O.J. Simpson's court appearance Wednesday in Las Vegas that he doesn't intend to try Simpson's case in the media.

"You don't fight for your client in front of a television camera," Galanter told a throng of reporters. "You fight for your client in front of a judge and jury, and that's what we're going to do."

Galanter, 50, has represented a wide range of criminal defendants, including those accused of being drug dealers, money launderers, white-collar fraudsters, robbers and burglars and telemarketing schemers. None has gotten the attention paid to Simpson

"He is one of the most affable clients I've ever had; and other than his interest in wanting to get his point of view across (in the media), he always listens to my advice," Galanter said.

A graduate of the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University's law school, Galanter spent much of his early career at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office prosecuting local criminals.

Hirsch said Galanter made clear early on that he preferred the rough-and-tumble of the courtroom to the loftier perches of theoretical law and legal research.

"He does mostly the shoot-'em-up, beat-'em-up type of cases," Hirsch said. "It's more about being a terrier in the courtroom."

Galanter, who moved to Florida from Pennsylvania to go to college, heads a firm of seven lawyers and acknowledges that Simpson changed his life.