O.J. Simpson's lawyers called for a mistrial Tuesday as Judge Jackie Glass considered allowing Fred Goldman's attorney to testify in Simpson's armed robbery trial. Defense attorney Yale Galanter's unsuccessful motion came after two hours of heated debate over whether David Cook should be allowed to take the stand today. Glass sent jurors home while the issue was discussed. No decision had been made when the trial ended for the day.
Robert Lucherini, attorney for Simpson's co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, also made a failed motion for a mistrial, and again asked that his client be tried separately. Glass again denied his request.
"The only reason to have Cook testify is for the prejudicial effect, to get him in front of this jury in Las Vegas, Nev., and remind them that a jury back in the mid-'90s found Mr. Simpson negligent in the wrongful deaths of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson," Galanter said. "There is no other relevant purpose."
Clark County District Attorney David Roger said he hoped Cook's testimony would "establish (Simpson's) motive, his scheme and his intent." He also said it would shed light on allegations that Simpson tried to hide assets from the Goldman family.
After the debate, Glass asked Cook to take the stand to help her make the decision on whether he could testify, and to answer some questions about his efforts to collect on the $33.5 million, wrongful-death civil award that Goldman won against Simpson in 1997.
She offered a stern caution: "The court wants to avoid any non-responsive answers, any spontaneous declarations, any personal opinions that might in some way prejudice my jury and cause there to be a mistrial."
Cook reassured her: "I will do my level best so as not to destroy these judicial proceedings in any way."
The back-and-forth capped another long day of heated testimony as defense attorneys tried to bore holes in Charles Ehrlich's testimony from the day before.
Ehrlich, a longtime Simpson friend who posed as a prospective buyer during last year's alleged hotel-room heist, admitted on Tuesday that his memory hasn't been the same after suffering two heart attacks after the Sept. 13, 2007 incident.
When Galanter pressed for details about an exchange between Ehrlich and Thomas Riccio, the memorabilia broker who set up the meeting in room 1203 at the Palace Station Hotel, Ehrlich replied, "You're asking me about specifics."
A frustrated Galanter fired back: "That's what this trial is about, specifics."
About an hour into the cross-examination, Glass ordered the jury to leave while she admonished Ehrlich for repeatedly talking over Galanter.
"This is not like we're sitting around at a restaurant or in a bar," the judge said.
"This is a courtroom."
Galanter then told Ehrlich, "You understand I'm not your friend in this courtroom?"
"Absolutely, Yale," Ehrlich responded.
Ehrlich testified on Monday that he has known Galanter for about 15 years, that the two frequented the same restaurants, and that Ehrlich introduced Galanter to a girlfriend named Beth. He also said Galanter had gotten Ehrlich's girlfriend a job at his law firm.
Simpson and Stewart face 12 charges, including armed robbery, kidnapping, assault and coercion. If convicted, they face up to life in prison.
Galanter has maintained that his client simply wanted to retrieve personal belongings stolen from him, and that he had no knowledge that weapons might be involved.