O.J. Simpson wants a new trial to reconsider his 2008 conviction on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping, saying he was misled by a bad lawyer. It's a common problem, legal experts say.
O.J. Simpson’s current appeal for a new trial has the potential to shed light on an issue that affects countless lesser-known defendants in the US court system: bad lawyering. Along the way, he might get a helping hand from the US Supreme Court.
Mr. Simpson is seeking a ruling overturning his conviction of armed robbery and kidnapping of sports memorabilia dealers in 2007. He says his counsel was inadequate and that his lawyer misled co-counsel.
"I had never sold any of my personal memorabilia, ever,'' he testified Wednesday, dressed in prison blues.
Squabbles between lawyers and their clients and co-counsels are not uncommon, says Robert Pugsley, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.
“Most clients in this situation are so poor or low on the economic scale that their bad lawyering doesn’t get much attention, and so the issue remains largely unnoticed,” he adds. “Whether Simpson prevails or not, this proceeding has a great chance to put the spotlight on this widespread problem.”
Yet appeals like the one Simpson is bringing only rarely meet with success.
“He actually has a case with merits, but these are extreme, uphill battles because you are asking a court to substitute its own judgment, years later with faded memories, for that of the judge at the time,” says Rene Sandler, of Sandler Law LLC in Rockville, Md., who has two decades of experience in such cases.