O.J. Simpson Appeals Civil Suit Verdict

It’s back to the courtroom for O.J. Simpson.

An attorney for Simpson began arguments in a court in Los Angeles Thursday on Simpson’s appeal of the wrongful death judgment in the deaths of his ex-wife and a friend.

Nearly four years ago, a civil jury found Simpson liable for the two deaths, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million to the families of murder victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Simpson filed an appeal two years ago asking for a new trial and to have the punitive damages thrown out.

Families Want Appeal Denied

Goldman family attorney Daniel Petrocelli urged the appellate court judges to deny Simpson’s appeal. Petrocelli told the judges there is a mountain of evidence, which proves Simpson brutally murdered two people.

“Having beaten the rap in the criminal case, he’d like to eliminate the burden that he now bears probably for the rest of his life in this case, which is a financial burden to pay the victims’ families if Simpson sees fit to earn a living,” Petrocelli said.

Simpson’s attorney Daniel Leonard argued the jury was prejudiced by testimony that shouldn’t have been allowed.

The civil trial judge supposedly allowed hearsay evidence such as the call made by Nicole to a battered women’s shelter five days before her murder and evidence of a lie detector test which Simpson failed, Simpson’s defense said.

Leonard also argued that barring detective Mark Fuhrman from testifying meant the jury never heard evidence of a police plan to frame Simpson.

Brown Family: Money Not a Concern

The attorney for the Brown family said there can be no argument that Simpson’s economic condition is crippled or destroyed. Simpson draws more than $20,0000 a month from an untouchable pension.

During the civil trial the family attorneys showed how Simpson could pull in $25 million in future earnings.

“He would attempt to exploit his name, his likeness, his celebrity stature for whatever it’s worth,” Petrocelli said.

A criminal jury acquitted the former football star on murder charges in October 1996.

ABCNEWS Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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