Simpson changes lawyers

Updated: May 23, 2009, 2:38 AM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- O.J. Simpson has switched lawyers on the eve of his appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court to reverse his conviction in an armed hotel room heist, his former attorney said Friday.

Las Vegas attorney Gabriel Grasso said he had been replaced by Malcolm Lavergne, a move he attributed to an unspecified rift with Simpson's longtime Miami-based lawyer, Yale Galanter.

"There's been an ongoing disagreement between Yale and I over the last few months, and I've decided to withdraw from the case," Grasso said. He declined to elaborate.

Simpson, 61, is serving nine to 33 years in Lovelock State Prison, northeast of Reno, for his conviction in October for kidnapping and robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in September 2007 in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Galanter said he remains in charge of the case but needs a Nevada lawyer to appear with him before courts in that state.

Lavergne, who had sought to represent Simpson after his arrest, said he was retained to "help handle the appeal." He said appeals were not one of his specialties, but that he once worked as a clerk in the New York Court of Appeals.

Galanter said that Simpson's appeal will be filed with the state Supreme Court by Tuesday's deadline.

Four other Simpson co-defendants testified against him and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart. They received probation for convictions on various felony charges.

Stewart, 55, was convicted with Simpson and was sentenced to 7 to 27 years in prison. He was expected to file a separate appeal by Wednesday.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press