Goldmans want rights to publish Simpson book


MIAMI -- The family of murder victim Ronald Goldman wants a federal bankruptcy judge in Florida to clear the way for them to bid on the rights to O.J. Simpson's canceled "If I Did It" book so they can publish their own version called "Confessions of a Double Murderer."

"Our realistic quest is to acquire the book rights. Ultimately we package them and put it out commercially," Goldman family attorney David Cook said Monday. "'Confessions of a Double Murderer' is the working title."

Simpson, who lives in the Miami area, has maintained his innocence since his 1995 acquittal of the slayings in California of Goldman and Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. The Goldman family, however, won a 1997 wrongful death judgment against Simpson that has now grown to about $38 million.

In the Florida bankruptcy case, the Goldmans claim an entity called Lorraine Brooke Associates was essentially a shell company used to negotiate the "If I Did It" book deal between Simpson and publisher HarperCollins. The project, which also envisioned a Simpson television interview on Fox, was canceled in November amid intense public outcry.

The book was billed as a speculative tale about how the murders might have occurred, but Simpson said in later interviews it was ghostwritten and mostly about his relationship with his wife. Cook said there are about 10 completed chapters, including one with "gruesome" details about the purported murders.

Documents filed in the case show that LBA was controlled by Simpson's children and include a letter from Simpson to HarperCollins acknowledging that LBA "has the right to enter the agreement and bind me personally to the terms" of the book deal.

Simpson has said he only agreed to the book deal to secure his children's financial future.

HarperCollins has acknowledged paying Simpson about $880,000 for the book, but Cook said the Goldman family isn't interested in trying to get that money. Instead, he said, the goal is for the book rights controlled by LBA to be auctioned and for the Goldmans to place the winning bid, then write their own version.

"Every choice we have now is bad. This is the least horrific," Cook said. "Money is justice."

First, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Jay Cristol must agree that Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father, has a claim on any LBA assets. A judge in California has ruled that LBA was a "surrogate" for Simpson, but the issue is still pending in the Florida bankruptcy proceeding.

At a hearing Monday, Cristol did rule that Simpson's oldest daughter, Arnelle Simpson, must give a deposition in the case and that LBA must turn over detailed financial documents to a court-appointed trustee and Goldman's lawyers.

The attorney representing LBA, Kendrick Whittle, did not appear at the hearing and did not return a telephone call seeking comment. About 15 minutes before the hearing was to start, Whittle filed an emergency notice for a delay.

Cristol ordered Whittle to remain in contact with the other lawyers in the case, who complained Monday that he has been virtually unreachable by telephone. That order, Cristol said, should be hand-delivered to Whittle's office.

"It's certainly not proceeding in a professional and civil manner," Cristol said of Whittle's actions.

Neither Simpson nor any Goldman family members appeared at Monday's hearing.