Tuesday, May 17, 2011
O.J. Simpson's appeal hearing declined
LAS VEGAS -- O.J. Simpson's lawyer won't get a chance to plead for the imprisoned former football star's freedom before the full seven-member Nevada Supreme Court.
The state's highest court issued a terse and unanimous order Tuesday declining to do what three of its members already refused to do -- hear Simpson's appeal of his conviction and nine-to-33-year prison sentence in a 2007 armed confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room.
Simpson lawyer Malcolm LaVergne told The Associated Press he understood the court's reluctance to hear oral arguments after a three-justice panel in October denied Simpson's appeal and declined in February to reconsider. LaVergne said he'll take the case now to the federal courts.
"What judge wants to be put in the position that they let O.J. go free?" LaVergne asked in an interview. "We'll work now within the federal court system. That's our option at this point."
"This is not a fair result for Mr. Simpson, given the facts of the case," the lawyer added.
LaVergne said he spoke last week with Simpson, and said the 63-year-old former football star remains in good spirits at the medium-security Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada.
In his appeal, LaVergne maintains Simpson didn't intend to commit a crime because he thought he was retrieving personal items that had been stolen from him.
Simpson stood trial and was convicted with co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart of kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges. Four other men who took part in the caper pleaded guilty to lesser felonies, testified at trial and were sentenced to probation.
Stewart served more than two years in prison before the Nevada Supreme Court overturned his conviction with a ruling that Simpson's fame -- stemming from his 1995 acquittal in the Los Angeles slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman -- tainted the Las Vegas proceedings.
Stewart, now 57, avoided a retrial with plea deal in which he didn't contest felony robbery and conspiracy charges. He was sentenced in January to three years of probation, including nine months of home detention.