O.J. Simpson's lawyers cited judicial errors and insufficient evidence Friday in seeking a new trial for the former football star, who was convicted of kidnapping and robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a casino hotel room.
"Simpson should be granted a new trial," attorney Gabriel Grasso wrote in a motion faulting Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass' decisions during jury selection, her limitations on cross-examination of witnesses during trial and her instructions to jurors before deliberations.
In a separate filing, a lawyer for co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart said Stewart suffered from being tried with Simpson, who was acquitted more than a decade ago of killing his ex-wife and her friend. Attorney Brent Bryson also alleged misconduct by the jury foreman, whom he quoted as saying he thought Simpson should have been given a life sentence for murder.
If the foreman "believes that Mr. Simpson is a murderer, and that Mr. Stewart is associated with Mr. Simpson, that bias would spill over" and affect the juror's ability to be impartial, Bryson wrote.
Jury foreman Paul Connelly has made remarks disputing such an interpretation of his post-verdict comments.
In documents filed with Glass, Grasso and Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter also protested that the judge refused to grant enough time to fully review transcripts and videotapes of the trial, which led to guilty verdicts against Simpson and Stewart on Oct. 3.
"She didn't give us the time we need to do a full-fledged motion," said Galanter, who lost a bid to extend the seven-day deadline.
Galanter said he would file a more detailed appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, the state's only appellate court, if Glass denies a new trial.
Prosecutors were expected to submit written opposition this month, according to court documents.
Simpson, 61, and Stewart, 54, are due for sentencing Dec. 5. The jury convicted them of all 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, in the hotel room confrontation more than a year ago.
Both men are jailed in Las Vegas. They face five years to life in prison on each of their two kidnapping convictions, and a mandatory sentence of at least two years or up to 30 years on each of the two armed robbery convictions.
Simpson's motion for a new trial alleges Glass improperly allowed prosecutors to use pre-emptory challenges to remove two prospective black jurors before the final jury was seated.
Both Simpson and Stewart are black. The final jury of nine women and three men included one woman who identified herself as Hispanic, but no blacks.
Simpson's lawyers asserted there was not enough evidence to support first-degree kidnapping convictions and faulted questions used to cull the jury from a pool of 500 prospects.
Grasso alleged that Glass blocked them from telling jurors that they could consider lesser charges of larceny or second-degree kidnapping against Simpson, or that the former NFL star believed when he confronted memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley that he was retrieving items that belonged to him.
Grasso also claimed the judge allowed biased jurors to be seated after they were questioned about Simpson's acquittal in the 1994 slayings in Los Angeles of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Five of the 12 eventual jurors said they disagreed with the murder acquittal, Grasso wrote, complaining that defense attorneys weren't allowed to ask them how they reached their opinion.
Glass sought during the trial to limit references to Simpson's 1995 acquittal. But there were references to that case and to a 1997 civil judgment holding Simpson liable for the slayings and ordering him to pay $33.5 million.
Stewart lawyers lost several requests to sever Stewart's trial from Simpson's. Bryson's documents referred to those decisions but focused on accusations of misconduct by Connelly, the jury foreman.
'We all have opinions'
Bryson pointed to answers on Connelly's jury questionnaire and to comments he said the foreman made during a post-verdict news conference.
"We all have opinions; some people think he should have been given life 13 years ago," Bryson quoted Connelly as saying. "That was my opinion, but I think that's reserved for the court to decide."
Connelly has said he was asked two different questions at the news conference and his answers were consistent with his responses on his jury questionnaire — that the courts had acquitted Simpson of murder and he agreed with that verdict.
Connelly has said that he was asked two different questions at the news conference and that his answers were consistent with his responses on his jury questionnaire — that the courts had acquitted Simpson of murder and that he agreed with the verdict.