Lawyer: Simp­son al­most cer­tain to re­ceive pa­role

Ne­vada board set to hear and rule on case Thurs­day

USA TODAY International Edition - - SPORTS - Josh Pe­ter @ joshlpeter11 USA TO­DAY Sports

O. J. Simp­son, who has been be­hind bars in a Ne­vada prison for al­most nine years, is el­i­gi­ble for pa­role Thurs­day, and one of his for­mer at­tor­neys thinks it is all but a for­gone con­clu­sion that the for­mer foot­ball star will be set free Oct. 1.

“He’s go­ing to get pa­role” said Yale Galanter, who rep­re­sented Simp­son dur­ing the 2008 trial in which Simp­son was found guilty of 12 counts, in­clud­ing rob­bery and kid­nap­ping, and sen­tenced to nine years min­i­mum and 33 years max­i­mum. “Pa­role in the state of Ne­vada is re­ally based on how you be­have in prison, and by all ac­counts he’s been a model pris­oner.

“There are no ab­so­lutes any time you’re deal­ing with ad­min­is­tra­tive boards, but this is as close to a non- per­sonal de­ci­sion as you can get.”

Four mem­bers from the Ne­vada Board of Pa­role Com­mis­sion­ers will con­sider pa­role for Simp­son at the board of­fices in Car­son City, Nev., with the pro­ceed­ings set to be­gin Thurs­day at 1 p. m. ET.

Simp­son, 70, will par­tic­i­pate by video con­fer­ence from about 100 miles away at Love­lock Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter, where he has been im­pris­oned since De­cem­ber 2008.

Pa­role is largely de­ter­mined by a point sys­tem, and how the com­mis­sion­ers feel about Simp­son — or his ac­quit­tal on charges of mur­der in the deaths of his exwife, Ni­cole Brown Simp­son, and Ron Gold­man — can have no im­pact on pa­role, ac­cord­ing to Galanter.

“It re­ally is based on points,” he said. “How long have you served, what your dis­ci­plinary record is, what the like­li­hood of com­mit­ting an­other crime is, their age, the facts and the cir­cum­stances of the case.”

The pa­role board has re­jected the idea that Simp­son could be fac­ing more con­ser­va­tive com­mis­sion­ers be­cause he’s im­pris­oned in north­ern Ne­vada. In a state­ment pub­lished on its web­site, the pa­role board said all com­mis­sion­ers use the same risk as­sess­ment and guide­lines, adding, “There is no ev­i­dence that the board is aware of that in­di­cates that one lo­ca­tion has panel mem­bers who are more con­ser­va­tive or lib­eral than the other lo­ca­tion.’’

Brooke Keast, a spokes­woman for the Ne­vada De­part­ment of Cor­rec­tions, told USA TO­DAY Sports that Simp­son’s dis­ci­plinary record is not avail­able to the pub­lic and that prison of­fi­cials do not com­ment on in­mates’ be­hav­ior. But a pa­role hear­ing in 2013 bodes well for Simp­son, ac­cord­ing to Galanter.

Simp­son, with the help of sev­eral other men, broke into a Las Ve­gas ho­tel room Sept. 13, 2007, and stole at gun­point sports mem­o­ra­bilia that he said to be- longed to him. More than a year later, Oct. 8, 2008, he was found guilty by a jury on all 12 charges.

He was granted pa­role in 2013 on the armed rob­bery con­vic­tions. Galanter called that “the clear­est in­di­ca­tor” Simp­son will be granted pa­role on the re­main­ing counts Thurs­day.

Simp­son is be­ing con­sid­ered for pa­role for kid­nap­ping, rob­bery, as­sault with a deadly weapon and the use of a deadly weapon en­hance­ment.

“It’s a fairly rou­tine ad­min­is­tra­tive mat­ter,” the at­tor­ney said. “It’s more like, ‘ Mr. Simp­son, you’ve been a model pris­oner, you have the points, con­grat­u­la­tions, do you have any­thing to say, thank you very much, granted, Oct. 1.’ ”

Yet, it won’t ex­actly be rou­tine. The pa­role board, for ex­am­ple, has said it will is­sue a de­ci­sion Thurs­day to min­i­mize dis­trac­tions. The re­sults of some hear­ings, by con­trast, take three weeks to reach the in­mate.

“The me­dia in­ter­est in this one case is a dis­rup­tion to our oper­a­tion,” the pa­role board said in its state­ment. “A de­ci­sion ( on Simp­son) is be­ing made at the time of the hear­ing so that the board’s oper­a­tion can re­turn to nor­mal as soon as pos­si­ble af­ter the hear­ing.”

A sim­ply ma­jor­ity of four com­mis­sion­ers will lead to Simp­son be­ing granted or de­nied pa­role.

If the four com­mis­sion­ers at the hear­ing are not in agree­ment, two ad­di­tional com­mis­sion­ers will par­tic­i­pate from Las Ve­gas by phone or video con­fer­ence.

If the six votes are split, a sub­se­quent pa­role hear­ing will be held in Jan­uary 2018.

Simp­son would have an op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress the board by video con­fer­ence as he did dur­ing the 2013 hear­ing.

If Simp­son is paroled, he would be re­leased Oct. 1.

“In terms of what he does with the rest of his life,” Galanter said, “if he was sit­ting next to me I’d say, ‘ Lis­ten, be thank­ful you got out in nine years. Go live in some small, quaint lit­tle golf com­mu­nity, stay un­der the radar, don’t at­tract any at­ten­tion and spend as much time as you can with your fam­ily and your friends with what­ever time you have left on the planet and just don’t cause any trou­ble.’ ”

JULIE JA­COB­SON, AP

O. J. Simp­son, shown in Clark County ( Nev.) Dis­trict Court in 2013, will ap­pear be­fore a pa­role board via video con­fer­ence Thurs­day in hopes of be­ing re­leased from prison.

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