Back in the News – OJ Simpson Granted Hearing on Appeal


I read an article today stating that a Clark County District Court Judge agreed to schedule a hearing for OJ Simpson’s pending appeal.  The article advised that OJ is alleging that his criminal defense attorney at trial was ineffective.  Such proceedings are called “collateral appeals.”  A “direct appeal” is the appeal filed shortly after the conviction, and direct appeals generally allege that the judge committed an error or that insufficient evidence was presented.  If the direct appeal is not successful, then a collateral appeal is filed, and most collateral appeals allege that the either the trial attorney or the direct appeal lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel.

In Simpson’s case, it is not suprising that a judge would schedule a hearing to give the defendant his day and court.  Given the amount of money that OJ paid to his attorney, it can be presumed that he hired one of the best attorneys in the country and thereby did not hire an ineffective criminal defense lawyer.  However, a judge generally must hold an evidentiary hearing to consider the defendant’s arguments and thereafter rule on the issues presented in the collateral appeal.  While the judge has scheduled a hearing, it does not mean that the judge is likely to rule in OJ’s favor.  Proving ineffective assistance of counsel is not an easy task.  I have successfully litigated two PCRA cases, but both of those cases involved fairly egegrious errors or omissions by the attorney.

Future Sandusky Appeal – Claim of Ineffective Assistance of Trial Attorney

In Pennsylvania, a collateral appeal is governed by a law known as the Post-Conviction Relief Act.  The law has strict requirements with regarding to what issues can be raised and when the appeal must be filed.

The criminal case of the century in Centre County, Jerry Sandusky, will be entering the direct appeal phase in the relatively near future.  I believe that his State College criminal defense lawyer may have filed Post-Sentence Motions for the trial judge to consider, but if they are denied, a direct appeal must be filed within the next 30 days.  The direct appeal will probably take over a year to be fully litigate and decided by the appellate court.

If the direct appeal is denied, you can be assured that a collateral appeal or PCRA petition will be filed that alleges that Sandusky’s constitutional right to a fair trial was violated based upon the ineffectiveness of his criminal defense team.  I know that the State College defense lawyer that represented Sandusky at trial is a very fine lawyer, and trying to prove that he was ineffective will be a very difficult task.