Endangered species beware--the Juice is on the loose.
O.J. Simpson's bad driving habits and legal problems extend beyond the Earth. Eschewing a white Bronco for a speedboat, the ex-football star and acquitted murder suspect was on Wednesday--for a brief time, at least--a wanted man for terrorizing a bunch of manatees in the waters off the coast of Florida.
A judge issued a warrant for Simpson's arrest after he skipped out on a court date stemming from the manatee-harassing incident. But just as swiftly, the judge withdrew the warrant after Simpson's attorney finally showed up in the courtroom hours later (amazing how those APBs can motivate the legal process).
O.J.'s latest legal hassles date back to July 4, when he was ticketed for racing a powerboat through Biscayne Bay--a zone occupied by the giant, peaceful, aquatic, herbivorous mammals, which are protected by federal law as an endangered species. The so-called sea cows are often killed or maimed by reckless humans thrashing through the waves, just like Simpson, girlfriend Christie Prody and possibly another couple apparently were.
Rather than forking over a $65 fine (he still has legal bills to pay, after all), Simpson decided to plead innocent to the moving violation. But O.J.'s plea was not filed until five days after he was issued an "affidavit of non compliance" for failing to show up for a September 12 court date.
Then, after he and his attorney were no-shows at 9:45 a.m. hearing Wednesday, Miami Judge Ana Maria Pando immediately issued a bench warrant, which meant Simpson could have been pulled over by the police on land or sea, at whatever speed he was going.
His attorney, Yale Galanter, at first told the Associated Press he didn't receive the notice; then, claiming there was a mix-up in notification, he came to court to argue that the speeding ticket was issued based on a subjective call by the officer. Withdrawing the warrant, Pando rescheduled the hearing for November 22. Simpson will probably take the option of paying the fine (with interest it will set him back $130), having the second-degree misdemeanor dropped and no further court commitments.
This is just the latest in the bizarre legal saga of Simpson, who was acquitted in Los Angeles of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson was later found liable for their deaths by a civil jury and ordered to pay $33.5 million in compensation, a ruling he has attempted to appeal and with which he has not yet complied.
Since moving to Miami, still protesting his innocence, Simpson's life has continued to spawn juicy headlines. Allegedly, he's been punched around by Prody; he's been accused of road rage; he's been dogged by the Feds in connection with a drug investigation.
And now even the manatees are out to get him.