Monday, May 21, 2012

OJ lawyer seeks to disqualify Vegas DA from appeal

The longtime marriage between O.J. Simpson's former trial judge and the current Las Vegas district attorney emerged Friday as a conflict-of-interest question in a new appeal seeking the former football star's release from prison.

Simpson lawyer Patricia Palm filed documents seeking to disqualify Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and his office from handling the lengthy appeal Palm filed Tuesday on Simpson's behalf.

Palm noted that Wolfson, a former defense lawyer who became district attorney in February, is married to former Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass. Glass resigned from the state court bench following the Simpson trial to star in a syndicated TV show called "Swift Justice with Jackie Glass."

Glass and Wolfson have an "obvious financial and emotional relationship" and have benefited financially from Glass’ notoriety as "the judge who presided over Mr. Simpson's trial and sent him to prison," Palm said in her seven-page court filing. Other documents related to the disqualification were submitted under seal, according to the court record.

Glass and Wolfson's relationship poses a conflict for him and the state, Palm said, in opposing allegations of bias and improper rulings by Glass.

Wolfson didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment Friday.

Clark County District Judge Kathleen Delaney plans hearings May 24 and 29 on various appeal matters, including the disqualification question.

Glass sentenced Simpson in December 2008 to between nine and 33 years in prison for kidnapping, armed robbery and other felonies. A jury had found Simpson guilty of leading five men in a September 2007 confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a cramped room at a Las Vegas casino hotel.

The National Football League Hall of Famer and former television and movie actor never testified. His lawyers said he wanted to take back from two sports memorabilia dealers family photos and personal mementoes stolen from him after his 1995 acquittal in the Los Angeles slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson, now 64, is being held at the medium-security Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada.

The appeal filed Tuesday faults the defense strategy and trial performance of attorneys Yale Galanter and Gabriel Grasso, and seeks a new trial for Simpson. Delaney has scheduled arguments July 3.

The filing, called a writ of habeas corpus, is a common appellate strategy to blame trial and initial appeals attorneys for a defendant's conviction. If it is denied, it can be appealed to federal courts.

Galanter lost an appeal for Simpson's freedom that included oral arguments in June 2010 before a trio of Nevada Supreme Court justices. Attorney Malcolm LaVergne failed in a follow-up bid for a hearing before the entire seven-member court.

By Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

Source: The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier


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