Three years after slayings, a court battle for Simpson’s property
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Everyone knows the survivors of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman want to collect the $33.5 million judgment from O.J. Simpson. Who knew it would turn into a competition?
At a hearing where Simpson lost a bid to keep thousands of dollars worth of property from creditors, a Goldman attorney accused lawyers for Simpson and the Brown family of conspiring to gain an unfair advantage.
The judge even responded to lengthy bickering at Monday’s hearing by noting an ``unseemly competition″ between the parties.
``I’m troubled by that,″ Superior Court Judge Irving Shimer said.
Simpson was acquitted of criminal charges in the June 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and Goldman. Shimer will decide what property Simpson can exempt from the judgment won by Ms. Simpson’s estate and Goldman’s family in their wrongful death case.
The judge denied exemptions for $170,000 worth of items, including a $15,000 life-size bronze sculpture of Simpson and a $5,700 painting. The biggest debate centered on Simpson’s 51 golf clubs; Shimer turned down a request to let Simpson pick out a set to keep.
Goldman family attorney Daniel Petrocelli fumed outside court, accusing the Brown and Simpson lawyers of collaborating against his client.
Ira Friedman, representing Ms. Simpson’s father, Louis Brown, executor of her estate, shrugged and said: ``So? You can prefer one creditor over another.″
And Simpson’s attorney said the law allows Simpson to prefer the Browns.
``We’re concerned for the needs of the children. We would like them to grow up with some of these items,″ lawyer Ronald Slates said outside court.
He said the Browns ``have been much more cooperative″ and ``much more humane,″ while the Goldmans have tried to take ``his last morsel.″
The hearing, which was to continue today, left unknown the whereabouts of Simpson’s Heisman Trophy, awarded to him in 1968 as college football’s top player. His attorneys said last week that the trophy had been assessed at $400,000.
Slates said media reports of the trophy being located were rumors whose origin was he did not know. Simpson has said he doesn’t know where the trophy is; last month, he said he assumed it was in a trust set up for his two children with Ms. Simpson.
The judge also rejected a proposal from Simpson that most of his claimed exemptions be dropped if the Browns got priority over the Goldmans.
``I have not ruled that the Browns have achieved any kind of priority,″ Shimer told the attorneys.
Petrocelli called Simpson’s offer a ``gimmick ... to move the items to their favored creditor.″
The judge did allow Simpson to exempt $6,000 worth of artwork, including a $700 autographed picture of former California Gov. George Deukmejian.
But Shimer refused to exempt two lamps valued at $24,000 and $18,870. And he shot down an attempt by Simpson’s lawyers to characterize a $6,000 lamp as ``ordinary and necessary″ to a household, which would allow it to be exempt.
``When I go home,″ the judge said, ``I’m going to ask my wife if we have any $6,000 lamps.″