SANTA MONICA — Civil rights attorney Gloria Allred made a public appeal for contributions Friday on behalf of Louis and Juditha Brown, who are fighting for permanent custody of O.J. Simpson's children.
The children have been living with their grandparents in Dana Point since 1994, when their mother was slain and their father was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Allred, who is not representing the Brown family, said she was making her public appeal as "a person who cares about the Browns." Allred said her statements were not made at the request of the family.
Earlier this week, Orange County attorneys Saul Gelbart and Eleanor A. Stegmeier, who were representing the Browns, left the custody case after the family could no longer afford the legal fees--leaving the Dana Point couple to represent themselves.
Allred described the situation as a "very serious turn of events," but declined to discuss the Browns' finances.
"If they could afford the legal fees and costs, I wouldn't feel it was necessary to make an appeal to the public," she said.
Allred said that to date, the Browns have incurred an estimated $100,000 in legal fees. However, Gelbart would not confirm that figure and Stegmeier could not be reached for comment.
Allred said she could not take on the Browns' case herself, but she declined to elaborate.
The custody case was being heard in family court in Orange. On Sept. 18, Commissioner Thomas H. Schulte halted a pretrial proceeding to determine temporary custody of the children and issued a gag order barring participants from talking to the media. The children remain with the Browns at least until the trial starts in November.
Orange County court officials confirmed Friday that the custody case was being transferred from Schulte to Superior Court Judge Nancy Wieben Stock in Fullerton. No reason was given for the transfer.
Allred chose to issue her public appeal during a news conference in Santa Monica, outside the courthouse where Simpson is fighting a wrongful-death lawsuit. It was a year ago this week that Simpson was acquitted in the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.
In making her plea, Allred made it clear she believes that the Simpson children, Sydney, 10, and Justin, 8, should remain with their grandparents.
"That stability and security which Sydney and Justin have found with the Browns is now at risk because their father, Orenthal James Simpson, is seeking to win custody of Sydney and Justin and remove them to his home . . . where their mother's blood and his blood were also found," Allred said.
Allred noted that the children have received "love, nurturing and protection" from the Browns.
Irvine attorney Bernard A. Leckie, who represents Simpson in the custody case, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
But Fullerton attorney Marjorie G. Fuller, who was appointed by the court to represent the children, criticized Allred's tactics.
"One of the things that I think is the most disruptive and harmful to my clients--the children--is to have their privacy invaded and to have this matter discussed and debated in the press," Fuller said.