As I mentioned in my introduction, via a mutual acquaintance I received an interesting critique about OJ Simpson written by one of the attorneys representing the Goldman family. The quest to claim the money awarded to the Goldman family in the civil verdict finding OJ Simpson guilty of the cold blooded killing of both his ex wife Nicole Brown Smith, and a young man Ron Goldman, a young man who had done nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time, has proved to be a difficult one.

OJ Simpson made it abundantly clear at the time that he had no intentions of paying the Goldman family ‘one red cent’. He packed his bags, his golf clubs and headed to Florida. This made the collection of the over $20 million awarded to the Goldman family a win on paper, but a hollow victory.

Now, more than a decade later, we see OJ incarcerated, potentially for the rest of his life.

Peter T. Haven is an attorney that I admire greatly, he has the guts to speak out. So interesting is his article that other than splitting it into two sections (just because of the size) I have changed not one single word.

Simon Barrett – Blogger News Network Senior Editor

O.J. Simpson’s Last Stand

It is sometimes difficult to say whether anyone gets what they truly deserve, whether it is good or bad. Oftentimes, all we can say is that someone got exactly what they bargained for. Recently, it seemed that Orenthal James Simpson got both.

During the past two-plus years, I was one of the lawyers who represented Fredric Goldman in his civil judgment enforcement efforts against Simpson for the murder of Fred’s son, Ron Goldman. During that time, our chief legal success was taking from Simpson the rights to his allegedly hypothetical confession, his book If I Did It. Simpson and his lawyers fought us every step of the way. Why? Simpson was paid a handsome advance of $630,000 for that book, and he got all that money before we even knew he had written it. He got that money free and clear, and there was nothing we could do to take that money away from him. So why not just let the book go? Why fight so hard to keep it? The answer, of course, lies with Simpson himself.

After watching the criminal proceedings unfold in Las Vegas, with an inevitable end that I had long felt was coming, I feel strongly that taking the book from Simpson ultimately pushed him over the edge and toward his folly in Las Vegas. I am not sure that Simpson can easily control his own behavior. I doubt he has ever really had to.

The Law can teach us much about humanity. Human beings are inherently social creatures. Like many forms of life, we gather together to promote our survival. Most groups have a common thread that binds them: the need for some type of morality. In order to live together, we have to care about each other. That is the essence of morality, the degree to which we care about others. The Law is a reflection of our deep-seated need to live together and to have a moral order.

A group also has another basic need: leadership. Groups function when they have many followers but only a few leaders. We are instinctively drawn to those who possess qualities that signal to us that we should place them on a pedestal. We do it all the time, with politicians, rock stars, talk show hosts, business executives, and even athletes and actors. We crave celebrities, just as we crave moral order. What happens when those two fundamental needs collide, as they frequently do?

Like many, I watched the spectacle of Simpson’s recent criminal sentencing in Las Vegas, just as I watched the reading of the criminal verdict years ago. Then as now, I was left with a strong impression. He had so much, and the world had given him so much. Even as he made his sorrowful plea in Las Vegas, I was struck by Simpson’s presence. At 61 years of age, much of his glow has faded. But much of it was still there, and it was not completely eclipsed by his dark-blue prison jump suit and his handcuffs. Simpson still has much of his former stature: his subtly gray looks; his stooping but still strong athletic build; his seeming eloquence, sincerity, and warmth; and that voice. A good voice is one of the most powerful tools of leadership; one of the best ways that one person can control many. As I listened to Simpson, and I believed that he was lying, and that he had ruthlessly murdered two people, including the mother of his children, I could still feel the sound of that voice and the power he still had to try to control people with it. Obviously, Simpson succeeded in getting his accomplices in Las Vegas to do something that was not only quite foolish, but also criminal. Has there been anyone in recent history who possessed so many of the character traits that we instinctively look up to and admire, at least on the surface?

But I also felt that Simpson was lying to that judge. Among other things, he kept referring to his children. I had heard that before, many times. In his book, If I Did It, Simpson tried to explain why he committed the murders. He claimed he was trying to protect his family from the alleged threat of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and he was trying to keep her from harming their children, or so he said. He tried to portray himself as both victim and hero.

After the public outcry over If I Did It, Simpson again took refuge behind his children. He told everyone that he wrote the book for his children, to help secure their future. When we were trying to take the book rights away from Simpson, we were accused of robbing those children of their future. Simpson got a tidy $630,000 advance payment for writing If I Did It, and he made sure that he got all of that payment before the book went public, i.e., before we could intercept those monies. How much of that $630,000 advance payment did Simpson give to his children? Zero.

Of course, there was also the whole act of killing the children’s mother and leaving her nearly headless corpse on the doorstep for those very same children to find. When Simpson was making his plea to the Las Vegas judge, I was once again reminded of a recurring scene in Hollywood movies: the villain grabs a child to use as a hostage or a shield. It was not the first time that Simpson had inspired such imagery.

When we were pursuing the book rights, we discovered that Simpson entered into his initial book deal with HarperCollins Publishers by creating a sham corporation in Miami to hold the book rights and funnel the payments to him. That company was called Lorraine Brooke Associates, Inc. (“LBA”). Lorraine and Brooke are the middle names of Simpson’s daughters, Arnelle and Sydney. Simpson appointed all four of his children as the ostensible owners of the corporation. At the time, all four children lived with Simpson and depended on him for their support. Simpson’s children never controlled LBA. They were merely a façade. Simpson controlled LBA, and that is how he funneled $630,000 through the corporation to himself.

When a California court was just about to effectively award Goldman the book rights, Simpson resorted to a last-ditch effort to try to thwart us: he tried to scuttle LBA by plunging the corporation into a federal bankruptcy court in Miami. Shortly after the bankruptcy filing, Simpson’s long-time lawyer, Yale Galanter, was quoted in Newsweek as saying: “There’s not a way in the world that Goldman is ever getting a dime. Now [the Goldmans] will never ever, ever have anything to do [with] this book.” Although Simpson and Galanter were never in doubt, they could not have been more wrong. By tanking the corporation and putting it into bankruptcy, Simpson ultimately assured that the Goldmans would take the book rights.

Simpson also did something else. By putting LBA into bankruptcy, Simpson subjected his children to scrutiny, because they were the alleged owners of LBA. I went to Miami to participate in the deposition and creditors’ examination of Arnelle Simpson, who supposedly was the president of LBA. For two days, Arnelle was grilled by a number of attorneys, including me. She understood about the book and its contents, and she understood that she and her siblings were supposed to get future proceeds from the book. That was about all she understood. She had no idea how to run the company, and she did not run the company. Her father did. When Simpson put LBA into bankruptcy, he forced Arnelle to answer for all of the company’s improprieties, debts, and frauds. I actually felt a little sorry for her. She seemed to do whatever her father wanted her to do. I do not know where Simpson was when Arnelle was surrounded by lawyers who were peppering her with questions that she did not know how to answer. He was not there with her.

Peter T. Haven is an attorney in Los Angeles.   He is a graduate of Stanford University and UCLA School of Law.  He has a general civil litigation practice, with a current emphasis on trying to help victims and/or their families pursue civil justice.  His firm, Haven Law, can be contacted via his web site at www.HavenLaw.com

Tune in tomorrow, and we will explore part two of this fascinating story.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

Be Sociable, Share!