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January 27, 2015

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O.J. Simpson trial lawyer alleges slander by Vegas attorneys in legal fee dispute


Steve Marcus

O.J. Simpson’s attorneys Gabriel Grasso and Yale Galanter hold a news conference outside the Clark County Regional Justice Center following Simpson’s conviction on all counts in Las Vegas on Friday, Oct. 3, 2008.

Click to enlarge photo

O.J. Simpson, left, listens to his attorney Yale Galanter during his sentencing hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas Friday, Dec. 5, 2008.

A Miami attorney who represented O.J. Simpson in the Nevada trial that ended with Simpson's armed robbery and kidnapping conviction has accused three lawyers of slander for a lawsuit and comments alleging Simpson's attorney failed to pay promised fees to his co-counsel.

A lawsuit filed Thursday by Yale Galanter in Florida's Miami-Dade County Circuit Court accuses Gabriel Grasso of defamation in the breach of contract suit that Grasso filed March 30 against Galanter in Las Vegas.

Grasso alleges he was promised $250,000 to serve as local attorney following Simpson's arrest in September 2007 but said Galanter only paid him an initial $15,000.

Galanter denies the allegations and accuses Grasso's lawyer, Josh Tomsheck, and Simpson appeal lawyer Malcolm LaVergne of making defamatory comments about the case in an April 3 report by the Associated Press.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages greater than $15,000.

The AP is not a defendant in either lawsuit.

Grasso and Tomsheck didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

LaVergne called the Galanter lawsuit "frivolous" and "completely without merit."

"Gabe's lawsuit is a legitimate lawsuit about payment of fees," LaVergne said. "Yale is suing Gabe for suing him."

Galanter alleges that his reputation in the Florida legal community was harmed by allegations that he stiffed Grasso on legal fees and that Grasso did the Nevada legal research and motions in the Simpson case.

Galanter is licensed in Florida but not Nevada. He engaged Grasso as Nevada co-counsel and obtained permission from the trial judge to take part in the Simpson case in Las Vegas.

Whether Simpson was effectively represented by his trial lawyers will be a focus of a detailed plea for Simpson's release from prison that another Las Vegas attorney is preparing to file in state court. If that effort fails, it could be appealed to federal court.

Simpson was convicted in October 2008 and sentenced to nine to 33 years in state prison for leading a group of men in an armed confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a room at a Las Vegas resort.

Galanter and Grasso argued that the National Football League Hall of Famer, TV star and advertising pitchman was trying to retrieve personal mementos and family possessions stolen after his acquittal in 1995 in the slaying of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson had no idea two of the five men who accompanied him in the ill-fated caper had guns, his lawyers said.

Grasso and Galanter parted in 2009. Galanter lost an appeal for Simpson's freedom to the Nevada Supreme Court that included oral arguments in June 2010. Galanter wasn't part of LaVergne's failed bid for a hearing before the entire seven-member court.

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  1. If prejudice by OJ Simpson's negative notoriety impacting the jury was the basis for the Nevada Supreme Court over turning C.J. Stewart's 27.5 year sentence, how then could Simpson have been afforded a fair trial by the same jury biased by the same negative media notoriety that was consistently prejudicial towards OJ Simpson? Even the judge, Jackie Glass, has contradicted herself by alleging that she was not influenced in her decisions in the Simpson Nevada trial by the prior California murder trial. She certainly fails to maintain a judicial integrity above reproach when she allows her TV show about justice to be introduced as "She's the Judge who put OJ Simpson in prison for 33 years".