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Simpson Seeks to Overturn Judgment

Courts: He alleges the $33.5-million damage award in 1994 slayings of his wife and her friend constitutes 'cruel and unusual punishment.'

April 27, 2002|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Contending that his constitutional rights were violated, O.J. Simpson filed suit in Los Angeles federal court Friday to overturn a $33.5-million civil judgment against him for the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald L. Goldman.

Simpson said the damage award constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment" by a state court jury that was "inflamed by emotion and denied access to exculpatory or mitigating evidence."

The former professional football star, who now lives in Florida, was acquitted of murder charges in connection with the June 12, 1994, stabbing deaths at Nicole Brown Simpson's home in Brentwood.

But Simpson was subsequently found liable for damages in a civil action brought by the victims' families in Santa Monica Superior Court.

Simpson, represented by attorney Douglas E. McCann, said in Friday's lawsuit that he was turning to the federal court for relief because he had exhausted all of his appeals in the California courts.

He complained that during the civil trial he was denied access to telephone company records of a call between his ex-wife and her mother shortly before the slayings.

Simpson has contended the records would prove that Nicole Brown Simpson was talking to her mother about 11 p.m., the same time he was being driven to Los Angeles International Airport to catch a flight to Chicago.

Daniel M. Petrocelli, who represented the Goldman family in the civil suit, could not be reached for comment Friday. But he has maintained that Nicole Brown Simpson spoke to her mother "well before 10 p.m."

While there was testimony at Simpson's criminal and civil trials about the call, the phone company records were never introduced as evidence. Simpson faulted his criminal and civil defense lawyers for not demanding the original records.

Two years ago, he filed suit in federal court to obtain the records but was rebuffed. The telephone company refused to release them without a court order or consent from Nicole Brown Simpson's parents.

Simpson also challenged the claim that a shoe print found at the murder site must have come from Bruno Magli shoes, like the pair he owned. He said the mold used to make soles for Bruno Magli shoes was also used by 20 other shoe manufacturers.

In addition to complaining that his civil rights were violated, Simpson said the civil jury verdict has caused him to "suffer relentless ridicule."

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