OJ Simpson's Trial Lawyer Dismisses Claims

Greg Milam, US Correspondent
OJ Simpson's Trial Lawyer Dismisses Claims

The lawyer who represented OJ Simpson during his trial for armed robbery and kidnapping has dismissed claims that he failed the former American football star - and said Simpson knew all along that his accomplices on the fateful night were armed.

Yale Galanter was called to give evidence at a hearing which will determine whether Simpson should be granted a retrial over a 2007 incident in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Simpson was jailed for a maximum of 33 years even though he claimed he was simply retrieving personal items from two sports memorabilia dealers. He said he did not know his friends were carrying weapons.

Simpson claims Mr Galanter had approved of his plan over dinner the night before the heist, and later failed to tell Simpson that prosecutors had offered a plea agreement during the criminal trial.

But the lawyer said in the Las Vegas courtroom that he never advised Simpson he had the right to retrieve the items and said he should call the police instead.

He also said Simpson had asked two of his friends to bring guns with them that night.

Simpson shook his head when Mr Galanter told the court that witnesses reported the star asking a friend to "bring heat".

Mr Galanter said: "He knew he screwed up. He knew guns were there."

On the basis of that, Mr Galanter said he made the decision not to claim at trial that Simpson couldn't see the guns in the hotel room.

"To argue that he had tunnel vision and didn't see these guns was absurd to me," Mr Galanter said.

The lawyer says he did discuss the offer of a plea deal with Simpson but, when he was told it would mean serving between two and seven years in prison, Simpson responded: "Hell no."

Earlier this week, Simpson became emotional when testifying about personal family items he saw in the room at the Palace Station hotel - items he did not know he had lost.

Simpson spent more than four hours in the witness box and told the judge he had not seen any guns on the night of the incident.

His appeal hopes rest on showing that Mr Galanter failed to represent him properly and was guilty of conflict of interest for not testifying that Simpson thought he was acting within the law.

Simpson said that many of the items he was retrieving were stolen from him while he was moving out of his Los Angeles home.

The move followed his acquittal of the murder of his ex-wife and her friend and a 1997 civil judgement that ordered him to pay \$33.5m (£22m) to the estates of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell says she will issue a written decision but did not give a date.

She has told lawyers for both sides to submit their closing arguments in writing.

She ordered that Simpson be returned to the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections.