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Conflict claimed in Simpson trial

BY LINDA DEUTSCH

AND KEN RITTER

The Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- The lead defense attorney in O.J. Simpson's armed robbery trial had a conflict of interest because he could have been a witness in the case, a lawyer who worked on Simpson's unsuccessful appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court testified Thursday.

Malcolm LaVergne said defense attorney Yale Galanter's conflict was that he had given Simpson legal advice regarding his plan to confront sports memorabilia dealers at a Las Vegas hotel in 2007 and take back what he believed was his property.

"Mr. Galanter may not have agreed with it, but he enabled him to do it," LaVergne said during a hearing on Simpson's bid for a new trial.

Simpson testified earlier that Galanter told him he was within his rights to take back his property as long as there was no violence and he didn't trespass. LaVergne said had Galanter's involvement been known he would have had to declare a conflict of interest and step out of the case. In addition, he said, Galanter's exorbitant fees meant he was putting his own financial interest before the interest of his client.

LaVergne took over as Simpson's local counsel for an appeal in 2010, after another Las Vegas lawyer bowed out in a dispute over fees with Galanter, a Miami-based attorney who is scheduled to testify today.

Simpson is serving a sentence of 9 to 33 years in prison.

Earlier Thursday, there was testimony by a lawyer who has hounded Simpson to collect a multimillion-dollar civil judgment after Simpson's acquittal in the 1994 stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Attorney David Cook said Goldman's father has ownership rights to the stolen items.

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