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Gloria Allred is calling for Nevada to reform its laws governing parole considerations in the wake of the state parole board’s Thursday decision to grant O.J. Simpson an early release from prison.
Simpson will be freed in October after serving the minimum nine years of his 33-year sentence for a 2007 armed robbery in Las Vegas. During the parole hearing, a member of the board held up a stack of papers representing hundreds of letters of support for Simpson’s parole, as well as hundreds in opposition. She said the majority of letters opposing parole urged the board to consider the case resulting in “[Simpson’s] 1995 acquittal”; that is, the Trial of the Century concerning the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. However, the parole board member said that per Nevada guidelines, that prior legal history would not be factored into the board’s deliberations.
“The parole of O.J. Simpson cries out for reform of law,” said Allred in a press conference immediately following the decision. “Justice is blind, but it should not be blind to the public legal record.”
The famed attorney, who represented the Brown family during the 1995 criminal murder trial, believes that had the parole board been allowed to factor in Simpson’s court history, “it’s possible it might have made a difference.” Specifically, she cited the 1997 civil verdict that held Simpson liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman, as well as Simpson’s 1989 conviction of misdemeanor spousal battery.
“That’s a risk of harm and fair for a parole board to have been able to consider,” Allred said, telling reporters that she intends to identify and work with a Nevada legislator to amend the law to include prior convictions of violent offenses against women, including misdemeanors, in parole considerations. In addition, Allred urges the state to allow parole boards to factor in civil judgments in wrongful death cases in which punitive damages are awarded. A California civil jury ordered Simpson to pay $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for Brown Simpson and Goldman’s deaths.
“If a parole board had been able to consider the full legal record of Mr. Simpson, they might have found that releasing him could present a risk of harm to the community,” Allred said. “Instead, they are forced to consider a legal fiction and only part of the record.”
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