September 18, 2007 in Nation/World

Experts think O.J.’s past could hurt his case

Bill Hutchinson New York Daily News

The tape

» An apparent audiotape of O.J. Simpson’s standoff with men whom he accused of stealing his memorabilia begins with the former NFL star demanding, “Don’t let nobody out of here.”

» ”Think you can steal my (expletive) and sell it?” the voice identified as Simpson’s said, in a recording released by celebrity news Web site

Associated Press

NEW YORK – O.J. Simpson could break tackles and leap over airport baggage carriers, but he can’t outrun his past.

Legal experts told the New York Daily News the widespread belief that he killed his ex-wife – despite being acquitted – will dog him as he tries to beat Las Vegas robbery charges.

“I don’t know how you could get a jury pool in this country who does not remember the O.J. Simpson trial,” said Manhattan lawyer Mudita Chawla, who has represented domestic violence victims.

Making matters worse, Chawla said, is that Simpson’s infamy grew after he wrote “If I Did It,” a book on how he would have killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. He was acquitted a year later.

“If he thinks he can get a jury that is not going to have that background then he’s kidding himself,” said Chawla, of the law firm Chemtob, Moss, Forman & Talbert.

Simpson, who is being held without bail, has told police he was just trying to retrieve sports memorabilia stolen from him when he and five pals stormed a Las Vegas hotel room Thursday to confront the thieves.

The Juice claims he didn’t know his friends were armed.

“That ain’t gonna fly,” said famed Queens lawyer Marvyn Kornberg.

Kornberg said prosecutors are likely to use an audio recording of the alleged robbery to counter Simpson’s defense.

On the tape released Monday, Simpson is heard cursing at the alleged victims and ordering his crew not to allow anyone to leave the room.

“Does he have eyes?” Kornberg said.

“He can see a defender coming a mile away when he was running with the ball, but a guy next to him pulls out a gun and he didn’t do anything on the tape to say put that away?”

Sports and entertainment lawyer Jerry Reisman said Simpson’s biggest problem is his past. Reisman said Las Vegas prosecutors have turned the case into “a media circus” by arresting Simpson before getting all the facts.

“The prosecution and the law enforcement agencies around this country want to get O.J. Simpson, the public wants to get him,” said Reisman, who represented Simpson in business and real estate deals prior to the sensational murders.

“It appears as if what they are seeking to do is treat him differently than if he was anyone else involved in the same type of alleged crime.”

Reisman pointed out that one of Simpson’s alleged accomplices was released on his own recognizance.

“He’s certainly entitled to bail,” Reisman said of Simpson. “He’s not going anywhere. He’s O.J. Simpson.”

Fordham University law professor Jim Cohen said prosecutors can rebuff charges of a double standard by pointing to the two guns allegedly used in the crime.

“Because now they’re going to claim, ‘We’re handling this case just as we would anything else,’ ” Cohen said. “Guns are serious, and when you threaten people with guns that’s a very bad thing. It’s called an armed robbery.”

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