One of the lawyers that helped disgraced football icon O.J. Simpson get acquitted of murder charges more than 20 years ago is weighing in on what lies ahead for the once-again free man.
Speaking with AM640’s Matt Gurney, so-called “dream team” attorney Carl E. Douglas said he expects Simpson to embrace his freedom “and not do anything that will jeopardize it.”
“I’m a 37-year criminal defence lawyer and having your liberty taken from you — being instructed when to get up, when to eat, when to shower, when to go to bed — are things that we on the outside take for granted,” he said.
“[Simpson] has had nine years of those restrictions and he is 70 years old now, in the fourth quarter, if you will, of his life.”
LISTEN: Carl E. Douglas joins The Morning Show on AM640
The former actor and NFL running back was released on parole in Reno, Nev., on Oct. 1.
Simpson had been in prison since 2008 after being convicted in the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas.
Douglas, who was featured in the Oscar-winning ESPN documentary O.J.: Made in America, condemned the initial 33-year-sentence in the robbery case as a “legal travesty” that was influenced by the verdict in his earlier double murder case.
Almost exactly 22 years prior to his release — on Oct. 3, 1995 — Simpson was found not guilty in the slayings of his former wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in a sensational trial that enthralled and deeply divided the American public.
Simpson was found liable in a civil trial in 1997 and ordered to pay US$33.5 million to the victims’ families, a figure that has gone unpaid and has ballooned to about US$65 million, a lawyer for the Goldman family told the Associated Press.
Following his release, Simpson was widely reported to be seeking a move to Florida. Douglas said he suspects he will live there eventually, and suggested state laws are favourable for shielding pension assets.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has spoken out against the possibility, saying in a statement that the state “should not become a country club for this convicted criminal.”
A story in The Hollywood Reporter published following Simpson’s release claimed his representatives had been shopping around a first post-incarceration interview for a seven-figure sum.
According to the anonymous sources cited, no major U.S. TV networks were interested for several reasons, among them the anticipated backlash over granting Simpson a platform and journalistic policies forbidding payment for interviews.
Douglas, however, said it’s unlikely Simpson will do interviews or reality TV, as paid appearances would invite scrutiny over his earnings by the Brown and Goldman families.
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Simpson faces supervision for up to five years under the conditions of his parole, but his public conduct will also be monitored in a different way.
He’ll need to adjust to social media and smartphone technology, Douglas said, which were nowhere near as ubiquitous and sophisticated when he was incarcerated nine years ago.
“Every time he steps out of his house, someone I suspect is going to be videotaping him or streaming his conduct,” Douglas said. “And that could prove problematic because he’s going to have very, very strict restrictions on the types of people he can associate with, on drinking to excess.”
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Despite Simpson’s infamy — a 2015 poll showed 83 per cent of white Americans and 53 per cent of black Americans now believe he was guilty of murder — Douglas doesn’t expect Simpson will disappear from the public sphere.
“The O.J. Simpson that I came to know is not going to be the kind of guy that will cower in a bedroom somewhere in the corner and hide from the public eye,” he said. “That’s just not the guy that I came to know.”
With files from the Associated Press and Chris Jancelewicz, Global News
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