Arguing that jury misconduct, insufficient evidence and other irregularities prevented O.J. Simpson from receiving a fair trial, lawyers on Tuesday filed motions seeking a new trial and asking Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki to reduce $33.5 million in verdicts against the former football star.
Simpson’s attorneys contend his trial was tainted on 12 separate legal grounds, including what the defense labeled “errors in law,” “abuse of discretion by the court” and other abnormalities in the proceedings.
The documents state that each of the 12 grounds “materially affected he substantial rights of the defendant and prevented him from obtaining a fair trial.”
The legal papers, which ask Fujisaki to set aside the jury verdicts, offer only a thumbnail sketch of the defense’s case for a new trial. Simpson’s lawyers must file a full explanation of their arguments by April 4, and the plaintiff’s attorneys will have 10 days to respond. Fujisaki set an April 25 date to hear the request for a new trial, according to Simpson’s lawyers.
One source close to Simpson said an extended, 50-page version of the defense pleadings will deal partly with claims that Fujisaki erred when he admitted lie detector evidence and allowed a battered women’s counselor to testify about a call she believed to have come from Nicole Brown Simpson, but that was never fully authenticated.
Plaintiff’s lawyers insist that Simpson received a fair trial the first time.
“The evidence clearly justified the verdict,” said attorney Peter Gelblum, who represented Fred Goldman, father of Ronald L. Goldman. “There were no errors of law that would justify a new trial.”
A Santa Monica Superior Court jury last month found Simpson liable for the deaths of Nicole Simpson and Goldman. The jury awarded the families of the two a total $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages - an amount Simpson’s lawyers labeled “excessive” in their motions on Tuesday.
Gelblum said it is “conceivable” that Fujisaki would pare down the verdict amounts, but added, “I think it’s an entirely appropriate award.”
Meanwhile, attorneys for Fred Goldman on Tuesday stepped up their efforts to collect his judgment $19.7 million.
The lawyers sought an order requiring Simpson to assign all of his future income to Goldman to satisfy the jury verdict. The attorneys are seeking monies from “rents, commissions, royalties, payments due from … copyrights” and other earnings and payments that Simpson could receive through various sources, including his enterprises, Orenthal Productions Inc. and Pigskins Inc.
An attorney for Ron Goldman’s mother, Sharon Rufo, filed a similar request last week seeking to recover $1.275 million in damages.
Simpson agreed Tuesday not to transfer the rights to his future income to any third party until Fujisaki takes up the matter at a hearing April 22.
Simpson’s worth has become an matter of debate between the two sides. Simpson’s attorneys argued at his trial that he is broke, but plaintiff’s attorneys have contended he is capable of earning millions of dollars through personal appearances and the sale of memorabilia.