Oral arguments set in Simpson case


The Nevada Supreme Court on Monday scheduled oral arguments June 11 in Las Vegas on appeals by O.J. Simpson and a co-defendant to overturn their felony convictions in a September 2007 hotel room heist.

A panel of three justices will hear separate 30-minute oral appeals from attorneys for the NFL Hall of Fame member and Clarence "C.J." Stewart, said a clerk for the state high court in Carson City.

Simpson and Stewart will not appear. The names of the three justices weren't disclosed.

Simpson lawyer Malcolm LaVergne called it "promising" that the state's only appellate court was granting an opportunity to pose questions face to face about the lengthy separate appeals Simpson and Stewart filed in May.

"He's going to be elated that the court wants to hear what we have to say in person," said LaVergne, who with attorney Yale Galanter represents Simpson. Simpson, 62, is serving nine to 33 years at a state prison in the Northern Nevada town of Lovelock.

"The one thing we didn't want was a ruling without oral arguments," LaVergne said.

Stewart's lawyer, Brent Bryson, said he expected Stewart will be "nervous and saying his prayers."

"But he's ready for this thing to be heard," Bryson said.

Stewart, 56, a former Simpson golfing buddy from North Las Vegas, is serving 7½ to 27 years at High Desert State Prison, about 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

It usually takes one to three months after oral arguments for the state high court to issue rulings on appeals, said Bill Gang, spokesman for the state Supreme Court.

The high court previously denied requests to allow Simpson and Stewart to post bonds and be freed from prison pending their appeals.

The two men were tried together and convicted in 2008 of robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a room at a Las Vegas hotel-casino. Simpson maintained he went to the Palace Station to retrieve family photos and mementos that belonged to him.

Each man wants the court to overturn their convictions on kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges. But they cite different reasons.

Simpson's defense maintained his celebrity so tainted the nearly monthlong proceedings that he didn't get a fair trial. They claim judicial misconduct, insufficient evidence, lack of racial diversity on the jury, and errors in sentencing and jury instructions.

Simpson's lawyers also alleged that the Las Vegas trial court judge kept them from asking prospective jurors about their opinions about Simpson's acquittal in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles.

Stewart's attorney argues that Stewart should have been tried separately from Simpson, that evidence was improperly used against him and that the jury foreman hid a bias toward Simpson until after the pair were convicted and sentenced.

Four other men involved in the Palace Station escapade took plea deals and received probation after testifying for the prosecution.

 

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