O.J. Simpson is accusing his lawyer of playing shoddy defense.
In his bid to get a new trial on the kidnapping, robbery and other charges that landed him in prison for at least nine years, the 65-year-old onetime football hero took the stand today—his legs remaining in shackles—and said that his now former longtime attorney, Yale Galanter, dropped the ball at trial nearly five years ago.
Galanter's cocounsel, Gabriel Grasso, previously testified that Galanter did not use roughly $700,000 in legal fees to hire expert witnesses or otherwise beef up their case, but rather kept the money for himself.
"I could advise O.J. all day long, and he was very respectful of me," Grasso said, testifying that Galanter was also the one who kept Simpson from testifying in his own defense. "But if I advised him of something different from what Yale said, he would do what Yale said."
Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Simpson testified today before a packed courtroom that he was under the impression that Galanter was working more or less for free because he would always tell him that "Grasso needed the money."
"O.J., when have I charged you?" he remembered Galanter saying.
As for the alleged crime itself, in which Simpson and five others—two of whom testified against him at trial in exchange for lesser sentences—were accused of holding up two men at gunpoint in a Vegas hotel room in an attempt to recover old Simpson memorabilia, O.J. said today that he had been drinking earlier in the day and had no idea beforehand that any of the people he was with were carrying guns.
"There was no talk of guns at all," he told the court.
Previous witnesses testified that Galanter had dinner in Las Vegas with Simpson the night before the alleged heist went down on Sept. 13, 2007, after being questioned about the lawyer's possible role in his client's decision to confront the memorabilia collectors who had some of Simpson's old stuff, including the suit he was wearing when he was acquitted in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.
Retired Clark County District Attorney David Roger, the lead prosecutor on Simpson's case, testified that Galanter told investigators "he did not advise Mr. Simpson to commit armed robbery" and was not present for what went down.
Fellow prosecutor Chris Owens testified that he learned of at least 10 phone calls between Galanter and Simpson in the days leading up to and on Sept. 13. He admitted to not divulging that in court due to a "legal construct" between the prosecution and the defense.
Simpson testified today that Galanter told him he had "the right to get [his] stuff" but not through illegal means.
"It was my stuff," he said under questioning from his current attorney, Patricia Palm. "I followed what I thought the law was. My lawyer told me, 'You can't break into a guy's room,' and I didn't break into anybody's room. I didn't beat up anybody...And the guys acknowledged it was my stuff, even though they claimed they didn't steal it."
No jury is hearing the case. It will be up to Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell to determine if Simpson gets a new trial.