Top Simpson Lawyers at Odds Over News Leaks, Egos
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Days before opening statements in the O.J. Simpson trial, two key players on his legal ``Dream Team″ have stopped speaking to each other _ reportedly in a dispute over egos and news leaks.
Lead attorney Robert Shapiro said he wants his colleague and longtime mentor F. Lee Bailey to leave the defense team.
He refuses to be photographed with Bailey, won’t ride in the same car and won’t speak to him except on urgent matters involving Simpson, according to reports today in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.
The New York Times reported in today’s editions that the feud began when defense team investigator William Pavelic concluded that for several months Bailey and his associates deliberately leaked items to the media about the case.
The purpose of the leaks, the Times said, was to denigrate Shapiro’s legal skills and enhance Bailey’s role in the case.
Meanwhile, Newsweek magazine reported DNA tests show that blood found in Simpson’s Bronco matches that of Simpson and victims Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The magazine cited unidentified sources for the report in its Jan. 23 issue. CNN also reported the match today.
Newsweek also reported that the prosecution will claim Ms. Simpson’s blood was found on a sock taken from Simpson’s house. The defense will argue that the blood was planted, the magazine said.
The tension brewing within the defense team comes several days before the opening statements, scheduled for Thursday.
``It’s very painful. ... I’m glad it’s coming out into the open so it can be aired,″ Shapiro told the Los Angeles Times. ``We can’t have snakes sleeping in the bed with us.″
One of Bailey’s associates, The New York Times said, was set up: He was given erroneous information that later showed up in the hands of a reporter. The Times didn’t name the associate.
``The landmark word to me is loyalty,″ Shapiro said. ``I felt a lifelong commitment to (Bailey) ... but recent events have been so painful that we’ll never be able to have a relationship again.″
Bailey’s fate in the case now lies in the hands of Johnnie Cochran Jr., who will be taking a leading role in the case. New York Newsday reported today that several weeks ago Simpson’s entire defense operations moved from Shapiro’s offices to Cochran’s.
Shapiro and Cochran did not immediately return messages for comment from The Associated Press on Sunday night. Bailey, who spoke to CNN on Saturday, expressed concern about the leaks to the media and said he was sure Shapiro was not responsible for them.