Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

O. J. Spectacle Back in Court Monday ; Biggest Celebrity Trial in History Continues with Hotel Room Robbery

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

O. J. Spectacle Back in Court Monday ; Biggest Celebrity Trial in History Continues with Hotel Room Robbery

Article excerpt

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.

When he comes to court 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 L. A. trial. "An O. J. case is never like any other case."

With Simpson, the past is always a prologue - and so memories of his murder trial are certain to serve as a backdrop throughout the Las Vegas hearing. This case, while less dramatic in nature, carries with it far more devastating consequences.

Now 65 years old, Simpson has already spent the last four years in prison and must serve at least nine years of his maximum 33- year sentence before he is even eligible for parole. He would be 70 by then. If Simpson doesn't win a new trial, he could conceivably spend the rest of his life locked up. …

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