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O.J. Simpson in court to fight robbery, kidnapping conviction

O.J. Simpson in court Monday to seek a new trial in his conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping. O.J. Simpson has served four years of a 33-year sentence. The latest court case is seen as a legal 'Hail Mary.'

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O.J. Simpson during his 2008 sentencing in Las Vegas. Simpson is heading back to the Las Vegas courthouse where he was convicted of leading five men in an armed sports memorabilia heist to ask a judge for a new trial.

(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, Pool, File)

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Like a recurring nightmare, the return of O.J. Simpson to a Las Vegas courtroom come Monday will remind Americans of a tragedy that became a national obsession and in the process changed the country's attitude toward the justice system, the media and celebrity.

His 1995 trial is the stuff of legends, the precipitous fall of a Hall of Fame football player from the pinnacle of adoration to a murder defendant who, although acquitted of killing his ex-wife and her friend, was never absolved in the public mind.

He is arguably the most famous American ever charged with murder, and his "trial of the century" cast him in the role of the accused — no longer the superhero-turned-movie actor held up to young people as an example of achievement.

But less is remembered about the 2008 Las Vegas trial that sent Simpson to prison for a bizarre hotel room robbery in which the celebrity defendant said he just wanted to take back personal memorabilia that he claimed was stolen from him.

When he comes to court on Monday, it is that conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping that will be before a Nevada judge. Simpson is seeking freedom in what lawyers often call a "Hail Mary motion," a writ of habeas corpus. It claims he had such bad representation that his conviction should be reversed and a new trial ordered. Most defendants lose these motions, but in this case nobody is taking bets on the outcome.

"Nothing is the same when O.J. is involved," said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, who observed Simpson's Los Angeles trial. "An O.J. case is never like any other case."

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