You “can expect the notice of appeal to be filed five minutes after sentencing,” O.J. Simpson defense attorney Yale Galanter said Sunday, demonstrating that a Clark County jury’s unanimous Friday guilty verdict against the former NFL star and movie actor — who now stands convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery — is not likely to mark the end of the case.
The 61-year-old Hall of Fame running back was convicted on all 12 felony charges for gathering a team of five men last year and storming a room at the Palace Station hotel-casino to seize Simpson sports memorabilia — including game balls, plaques and photos — from two collectors.
Prosecutors said two of the men with Simpson were armed; one testified Simpson asked him to bring a gun.
Under law, an appeal in the case can’t be filed till after sentencing, now scheduled for Dec. 5. But defense attorneys are hardly waiting until then to pursue an aggressive course.
Mr. Galanter said Sunday a motion for a new trial will be filed with District Judge Jackie Glass by this Friday; he is continuing to pursue a request for Simpson to be released on bond pending an appeal; and he believes Simpson has a strong bid for a reversal of the convictions at the appeals-court level.
Because the motion for a new trial would in essence ask Judge Glass to rule she or the jury under her supervision acted improperly, its chances of success are seen as slim.
There’s little doubt the subsequent appeals will focus on the fact some jurors acknowledged they were aware Simpson was tried for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, in Los Angeles 14 years ago, and that some jurors even acknowledge they believe he was guilty of that crime, for which he was acquitted in criminal court but subsequently found civilly liable.
Mr. Galanter has said the appeal will contend legal errors were made during jury selection, including the elimination of all African-Americans from the jury, with the result that Simpson’s Las Vegas trial was before an all-white panel.
Stewart, on the other hand, is likely to appeal on grounds that his chances of acquittal were reduced by having his trial linked to that of the more notorious Simpson.
Simpson and Stewart have every right to appeal, and their attorneys can bring forth any issues they please.
Any appeal based on the racial makeup of the jury would have to make a convincing case that the jury was “stacked” that way to favor conviction — it’s hard to imagine any appellate court ruling that a jury must contain some minimal quota of jurors of the defendant’s own race, leading to endless debate over whether one co-racial juror is enough, or whether two or seven or even 12 are required, as well as what racial or cultural characteristics render a juror “black (or Hispanic) enough.”
As to the suggestion that justice required a jury totally unaware of O.J. Simpson’s history, that’s tantamount to saying he should have been tried in some community remote from all modern culture and communications — flying in the face of the constitutional requirements that defendants be tried in the same jurisdiction where their offense is alleged to have occurred.
The legal requirement, as generally understood, is simply that the court disqualify jurors who admit their fore-knowledge will prevent them from fairly considering the facts of the case at hand.
Did Judge Glass satisfy that minimal requirement? Or should she have insisted on jurors who spent the past 14 years trapped in a cave?
The appeals court will let us know — eventually.
One thing is for sure: Nevadans haven’t heard the last of the legal travails of O.J. Simpson.