Simpson Jury Award Upheld

o.j. simpson summer 2000
A California appeals court Friday upheld a civil jury's finding that "Trial of the Century" defendant O.J. Simpson was liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend and refused to overturn the $33.5 million in damages he was ordered to pay.

A three-judge panel of the California 2nd District Court of Appeal found that the civil court jury in 1997 had "in effect found that Simpson committed two deliberate, vicious murders. This is the most reprehensible conduct that society condemns and is ordinarily punished under California criminal law by a sentence of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole."

Simpson, a former football star turned actor, was acquitted of the June 12, 1994, murders by a criminal court jury in a sensational case that ended in 1995. But the civil court jury later found him liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, and Simpson appealed.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.

Simpson's attorney argued last month that the trial judge erred in rulings on evidence, in denying a mistrial and because damages were excessive.

Simpson could pursue his appeal with a petition to the California Supreme Court. His attorney, Daniel Leonard, could not be reached immediately by telephone.

Leonard had argued that the jury was prejudiced by testimony that Simpson failed a polygraph test and that his ex-wife called a shelter for battered women several days before she was killed in June 1994.

Leonard also said the exclusion of testimony by former Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman barred important evidence of a police plan to frame Simpson for the killings.

The Goldman family was buoyed by the ruling, their attorney said.

"The (appeals) court unanimously affirmed the verdict of the jury finding Simpson responsible and rejected every contention Mr. Simpson made on appeal," Goldman family attorney Daniel Petrocelli said. "The court declared there was no error whatsoever in the damages the jury awarded, particularly in light of the reprehensibility of his actions."

As for an appeal, Petrocelli said, "I don't think there are any grounds for it."

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