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THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER TRIAL : Shapiro Spars With Judge Over Fine

August 15, 1995|JIM NEWTON

Robert L. Shapiro, one of the few lawyers in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson who has avoided the fines that have mounted for months against his colleagues and counterparts, went toe to toe with the criminal court's presiding judge Monday and chose to fight rather than pay.

Summoned by Superior Court Judge James Basque, the defense lawyer was told that he had been surreptitiously videotaped granting an interview to reporters on the ninth floor of the Criminal Courts Building--a violation of a ban that has angered journalists and, ironically, that Shapiro has been among the most conscientious of the attorneys in the Simpson case about obeying.

Shapiro said he had paused briefly to answer a few legal questions that journalists had about a North Carolina court ruling and its possible effects on the Simpson case. Although Shapiro argued that position to the judge, the attorney said Basque offered him a choice: Admit that he violated the order and pay $250, or fight it and risk paying $1,500. Shapiro chose to fight, and the judge set a hearing for Aug. 28.

"I haven't said a word coming into this courthouse or leaving it for a month and a half, except on one occasion," Shapiro said after court Monday. "I walk right in. I walk right out. I haven't done interviews, but I feel I should be able to. . . . It's a 1st Amendment issue."

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