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Saturday 20 September 2014

OJ lawyer denies botching trial

Published 18/05/2013 | 08:22

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OJ Simpson embraces his lawyer Patricia Palm at the end of a court hearing in Las Vegas (AP)

OJ Simpson's former lawyer has defended himself point-by-point against allegations he botched the ex-American football star's armed robbery trial.

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Yale Galanter gave damaging evidence that Simpson actually knew his friends had guns when they went to a hotel room together to reclaim some sports memorabilia.

The Miami-based lawyer quickly found himself under withering cross-examination from a Simpson lawyer intent on proving that Mr Galanter's word could not be trusted - and that he knew ahead of time of Simpson's plan and spent more effort covering up his involvement than representing Simpson.

Simpson, 65, was convicted in 2008 of kidnapping and armed robbery over the hotel room episode and was sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison. That came 13 years after his 1995 acquittal over the killing of his ex-wife and her friend, a case that riveted Americans and become known as the "trial of the century".

Simpson and his new lawyers, Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo, allege that Mr Galanter botched the trial.

The week-long hearing has finished, with Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell telling lawyers she will issue her decision in writing, although she did not specify a date.

Simpson was returned to prison custody, and his lawyers said they were optimistic that the judge would grant a new trial. "I just think the evidence of his claims is overwhelming," Ms Palm said.

Mr Galanter took the stand as the state's star witness in a hearing on Simpson's claim that he was so badly represented at trial and on appeal that his conviction should be thrown out. He spent most of the day on the defensive, with Simpson lawyer Tom Pitaro grilling him with accusations and pointed questions. "Mr Simpson never told me he was going to go to the Palace (Station) hotel with a bunch of thugs, kidnap people and take property by force," Mr Galanter said at one point. "To insinuate I, as his lawyer, would have blessed it is insane."

But he conceded that Simpson's conviction was his responsibility, and admitted he "misspoke" when he told the trial judge that crucial audio recordings had been carefully analysed by experts. "Clearly I misspoke," Mr Galanter said. "I would never, ever ... I would just never intentionally mislead a judicial officer or a lawyer. I'm falling on that sword."

He denied giving Simpson the go-ahead to retrieve the photos and footballs he believed had been stolen from him, and that he kept Simpson in the dark about offers of plea deals that carried only a few years in prison. He said his client agreed all along with the decision not to put him on the stand to testify at his trial.

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