Trials & Litigation

Lawyer testifies OJ Simpson knew about guns, said 'No deal. No way.' when told of plea offer


Reluctantly testifying about his former client, O.J. Simpson, a Miami attorney on Friday contradicted key aspects of Simpson’s earlier testimony during a hearing about whether the former football great should be granted a new trial in his Nevada armed robbery case.

Called to the stand by prosecutors and reminded that Simpson has waived the privilege that would normally apply to lawyer-client communications, Yale Galanter said he didn’t have Simpson testify during the robbery trial about not seeing guns because his client knew ahead of time that some of his cohorts in the “sting” operation would be armed.

The attorney also testified that he advised his client to call the police instead of trying to get stolen sports memorabilia back on his own and, in response to Simpson’s earlier testimony that he paid $500,000 to Galanter for legal costs only, because the attorney agreed to take his robbery case on a pro bono basis, said “I don’t do anything for free,” according to the Associated Press, the Nation Now page of the Los Angeles Times and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Galanter said he had dinner with Simpson, as a matter of friendship, while on a trip to Las Vegas concerning another legal matter, shortly before the armed robbery took place in a Las Vegas casino hotel room.

Lawyers for Simpson, supported by other attorneys who worked with Galanter on the defense side during the armed robbery trial in 2008, said he should get a new trial because Galanter was ineffective and put his own financial interests ahead of his client’s case. (Other former Simpson lawyers and Galanter have also been involved in a fee dispute and a related defamation case.)

But Galanter, who according to the Review-Journal was paid $572,000 for his work on the robbery case, said that just wasn’t true, the AP reported.

“When you look at the entire trial, I don’t think I could have fought harder, done more,” he testified. “I put every ounce of blood, sweat and soul into it.”

Galanter also disagreed with Simpson’s claim that the lawyer didn’t tell the client of plea offers prior to Simpson’s conviction and sentencing to a 9- to 33-year prison term.

When the district attorney offered a five- to seven-year term, Simpson said “No deal. No way,” Galanter said, and he said Simpson also subsequently turned down a better deal.

“I went out in the hall and said to O.J, ‘There is an offer of two to five.’ He said, ‘See if they will take a year,’” Galanter testified. “I discussed a year with them, and they said no and the trial went on.”

An Associated Press timeline lists the events that led up to this week’s Las Vegas hearing on Simpson’s habeas corpus petition in the Clark County District Court case.

Now 65, Simpson is serving a nine- to 33-year prison term. Absent a successful appeal, he won’t be eligible for release until he is 70.

See also

ABAJournal.com: “OJ Simpson was ‘somewhat intimidated’ by his lawyer, witness says in new trial bid”

ABAJournal.com: “OJ Simpson is allowed to have one hand free as he argues for new armed robbery trial”

ABAJournal.com: “OJ Simpson: I gave $500K to lead lawyer for costs; he was supposed to defend me for free”

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