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O.J. Simpson in court seeking new trial

Faults ex­-lawyer in robbery case

LAS VEGAS — A weary-looking O.J. Simpson, weighed down by shackles and more than four years in prison, shuffled into a Las Vegas courtroom on Monday hoping to eventually walk out a free man.

His arrival in court to ask for a new trial in the armed robbery-kidnapping case that sent him to prison in 2008 for up to 33 years could be heard before he was seen — as a loud rattling of the chains that bound his hands to his waist and restrained his feet.

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His lawyers had unsuccessfully argued to forgo the shackles. After the 65-year-old Simpson was seated, a guard removed his handcuffs and clicked them onto his chair.

The once-glamorous football star and TV pitchman was subdued in his blue prison uniform.

Grayer and heavier, he briefly flashed a smile and mouthed a greeting to people he recognized before being stopped by a bailiff.

Simpson listened intently as his lawyers tried to make the case that he had poor legal representation in the trial involving the gunpoint robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in 2007 in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Of the 22 allegations of conflict of interest and ineffective counsel his lawyers raised, Judge Linda Marie Bell of the Clark County District Court has agreed to hear 19.

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Simpson has said his former lawyer, Yale Galanter, had rejected appropriate defense moves and even met with Simpson the night before the disastrous heist to bless the plan as long as no one trespassed and no force was used.

Galanter was paid nearly $700,000 for Simpson’s defense but had a personal interest in preventing himself from being identified as a witness to the crimes and misled Simpson so much that he deserves a new trial, lawyers for Simpson say.

Simpson is expected to testify Wednesday and say Galanter advised him that he was within his rights to retrieve family pictures and footballs being peddled by memorabilia dealers.

Galanter has declined to comment before his scheduled court appearance Friday.

A lawyer for Simpson co-defendant Clarence ‘‘C.J’’ Stewart testified Monday that a plea deal was offered to Simpson and Stewart in the midst of trial.

Brent Bryson said prosecutors told him the offer called for a two- to five-year sentence for each defendant in return for guilty pleas.

Prosecutors said they were presenting it to Simpson’s lawyers but later said there was no deal, Bryson said.

Bryson didn’t know if Simpson had ever been told about the deal by his lawyer.

Simpson, who will be 70 before he is eligible for parole, said he was not.

Under questioning by ­defense lawyers Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo, Bryson’s and Simpson’s friend James ­Barnett, a wealthy businessman, said Galanter’s biggest mistake was not challenging the admission of an audio recording of the hotel room incident.

‘‘The tapes were untrustworthy,’’ Bryson said. ‘‘Files had been uploaded. Experts could not testify to their authenticity.’’

Barnett said he asked ­Galanter why he wasn’t hiring an expert to analyze the recording.

‘‘He said, ‘If you would give us $250,000, we would have it done. We don’t have the money to analyze the tapes,’ ’’ Barnett testified.

Barnett said he was told by Galanter’s co-counsel, Gabriel Grasso, that Grasso had his 15-year-old son help him analyze the recordings.

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