Simpson wants a new trial; claims damage awards excessive
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ Citing legal errors including jury misconduct, O.J. Simpson’s attorneys filed notices seeking a new trial and a reduction of the $33.5 million in civil damages awarded to Nicole Brown Simpson’s estate and Ron Goldman’s family.
Both notices were filed Tuesday with Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki, who presided over Simpson’s civil wrongful death trial.
The two-page ``notice of intention″ to move for a judgment setting aside the verdicts included a bare bones outline of how attorneys will attack the case in a more extended legal brief.
``This is a formal notice required under California law,″ said attorney Daniel Leonard. ``The actual substance of the motion will be filed April 4.″
He said that document will be about 50 pages and will include claims that the judge erred in admitting lie detector evidence and permitting a battered women’s counselor to testify about a call never fully authenticated as coming from Simpson’s ex-wife, Ms. Simpson.
Leonard also plans to allege jury misconduct based on dismissal of a woman panelist during deliberations for failing to disclose that her daughter worked for the district attorney’s office, which prosecuted Simpson.
Other alleged jury problems include an effort by two jurors from Simpson’s criminal trial to contact the panelists in the civil trial before they had returned a verdict.
The defense notice listed 12 areas of law in which it said that erroneous rulings ``affected the substantial rights of the defendant and prevented him from obtaining a fair trial.″
Leonard said Fujisaki scheduled a hearing on the motion for April 25.
Simpson, who was acquitted of murdering Ms. Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, subsequently was sued by their survivors in civil court and was held liable. A jury awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages to Goldman’s family, then assessed $25 million in punitive damages for Goldman’s parents and Ms. Simpson’s estate.
Leonard said in a phone interview that financial evidence presented by the plaintiffs at Simpson’s trial was insufficient to show that he has a positive net worth. Simpson said last week he has no funds and that plaintiffs’ estimates that he could make millions by selling his autograph and memorabilia have not materialized.
Meanwhile, Simpson says in a magazine interview that he takes refuge from his problems by golfing on public courses, where he always finds a foursome, even though some players don’t want him around.
Simpson, in the March 31 issue of Sports Illustrated, admits to getting ``some pretty funny reactions″ when golfers find he is part of their foursome. ``But nobody’s walked away yet. Not once,″ he said.
Paul Hopps, assistant pro at the Rancho Park course where Simpson plays frequently, told the magazine: ``We try to give him the hint he’s not welcome here. But he keeps showing up.″