(AP) Nevada judge says she’s working on Simpson ruling
By KEN RITTER
The Nevada judge who will decide whether O.J. Simpson gets a new trial in a botched confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers indicated Thursday that she’s still working on her ruling.
In her first public comment since hearings nearly five months ago, Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell issued a statement through a court spokeswoman saying the case is complicated, the file is thick, and she is addressing 22 claims raised by prosecutors and Simpson’s lawyers.
It didn’t cite a date for a ruling.
Prosecutor H. Leon Simon and Simpson attorneys Patricia Palm, Ozzie Fumo and Tom Pitaro, who handled the May 13-17 hearings before Bell, said the judge had a reputation for thoroughness and they were willing to be patient.
The losing side is expected to appeal Bell’s ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Palm said she spoke with Simpson in prison about two weeks ago and characterized him as “understandably anxious” about a decision.
Simpson, now 66, is serving nine to 33 years at Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada following his conviction on kidnapping, armed robbery and other felony charges in what he maintained was an attempt to retrieve memorabilia and personal items from two sports collectibles dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room.
Nevada parole commissioners on July 31 approved Simpson’s parole on some of his 12 convictions, but the ruling has no effect on Judge Bell’s decision. The parole ruling didn’t free Simpson because he still faces at least four more years for other sentences.
If Simpson is granted a new trial, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s office would have to decide whether to file for a retrial or offer a plea deal that might free Simpson with credit for the time he already has served.
Wolfson declined immediate comment Thursday.
Wolfson’s wife, former Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass, presided over Simpson’s 2008 trial and sentencing.
Simpson’s current lawyers argue that his trial was tainted by the notoriety of his 1995 murder trial and acquittal in Los Angeles in the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
They allege that Simpson’s trial lawyer in Las Vegas, Yale Galanter, had a conflict of interest because he didn’t want the public to know that he knew in advance about Simpson’s plan to confront the memorabilia dealers.
Simpson testified that Galanter advised him that it was his legal right to retrieve personal items.
Galanter testified before Bell that he didn’t give Simpson such advice. He also contradicted Simpson’s claim that he never knew any of the men accompanying him in the hotel room confrontation brought guns.
Of the five other men who were with Simpson at the Palace Station casino, four pleaded guilty before trial to felonies, testified against Simpson and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, and were sentenced to probation. Two testified they brought guns.
Stewart stood trial with Simpson and was convicted and sentenced to 7 1/2 to 27 years in prison. He served about two years but was freed after being granted a new trial by the Nevada Supreme Court.