Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009 | 3:25 p.m.
The lawyer who won possession of nine O.J. Simpson footballs in a yearlong legal fight on behalf of Fred Goldman said Wednesday he will not sell them unless Simpson agrees to contribute the first $6,075 of proceeds to a foundation named for Goldman's slain son.
Simpson's lawyer immediately declined the offer and said Simpson won't auction the footballs either. In light of that, both lawyers conceded the year-long legal battle was for naught.
"Am I going to walk away empty handed?" said Goldman lawyer David Cook. "You betcha. But we're not going to work for O.J. or his legal team."
The footballs were part of a cache of items that Simpson was convicted of stealing from a Las Vegas hotel room during an armed robbery on Sept. 13, 2007. Simpson is in a Nevada prison serving a sentence of nine to 33 years for the confrontation.
In an ironic twist Tuesday, a judge ruled that many of the items did belong to Simpson as the former football star claimed. His lawyer, Ronald P. Slates, said Simpson should have acted within the law to try to get them back. Instead, he burst in with an armed posse.
Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg ruled Tuesday that a number of items including framed awards, neckties and a picture with J. Edgar Hoover should be returned to Simpson. But he said the commemorative game balls could be awarded to Goldman.
Rosenberg said, however, that Simpson has a legal exemption that allows him to collect the first $6,075 in proceeds from any sale. He ruled that the footballs came under a category of "tools of the trade" that are exempt from seizure in a civil action up to that figure.
If the footballs were sold for a larger profit, the balance would go to Goldman. Cook said that was not acceptable.
The attorney said he proposed to Slates that the $6,075 be donated to the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice.
If Simpson declined the proposal, Cook said, Goldman would return the footballs to Simpson, who can sell them on the sports memorabilia market.
"To the extent that Mr. Simpson generates a recovery in excess of $6,075 we will proceed with legal recourse for the excess," Cook said.
Slates said Simpson has always wanted his children to have the footballs and did not plan to sell them.
Ron Goldman was slain along with Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, on June 12, 1994. Simpson was acquitted of the murders but was subsequently held liable in a civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5 million. He has repeatedly said he will not pay the judgment because he is not guilty of the murders, and Goldman continues to try to seize Simpson's property to satisfy the judgment.
Slates said he hopes this is the end of collection litigation between Goldman and Simpson.
"It's time to stop," said Slates. "It's been 13 years. Enough already."