Role Reversal in Battle Over O.J. Simpson Book

April 3, 2007 — -- You may need to read the next sentence twice.

Lawyers for O.J. Simpson and his children are going to court to fight to keep Fred Goldman from auctioning off the publishing rights to "If I Did It'' -- Simpson's controversial account of how he might have killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994.

"We are taking steps to prevent this from happening,'' longtime Simpson attorney Yale Galanter told ABC News.

The reversal of positions has caused more than a few jaws to drop -- in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

"So, it's OK to exploit their son's memory as long as they are the ones doing it?" read one post from Raven_One on blog.

"This is sick, sick, sick,'' wrote another.

Galanter, a veteran nemesis of the Goldman family, was typically blunt. "The fact that [Fred] Goldman has shown his true colors and shown the world what a greedy pig he is seems to shock everyone but me,'' Galanter told ABC News. "Am I the only sane person in this mess? This is a complete turnaround."

Galanter has said that he had nothing to do with the creation of the book and was against the project from the start.

In February, Goldman's attorneys convinced a judge to turn the rights to "If I Did It'' over to them to settle part of a decade-old $33.5 million civil judgment. Last month it was announced that an auction would take place April 17 at the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered that it be held in Sacramento because it is the California headquarters of HarperCollins, which holds the rights to the book.

Goldman's attorneys said they contacted Hollywood studios, publishing houses and talent agencies.

The turnaround "shocked'' Nicole Brown's sister Denise, a source close to her told ABC News. A long-standing if uneasy alliance between the two murder victims' families was broken for good.

"The Goldmans' sudden reversal of positions to justify the auction of these rights … is transparent to their true motive, which is to collect money,'' read a statement issued by Denise Brown. "This overzealous pursuit to collect on the judgment does not morally justify a means to the end."

'Bittersweet Victory' for Goldman

But Goldman vigorously defended his actions to ABC News. "Our first goal was the make sure the court took away his rights to the book,'' he said. "And we've accomplished that. We have stopped him from ever profiting from the book again. The bottom line is that we are taking things away from him, and if I could take every penny in the world from him and leave him homeless on the street, that's what I would do," he said.

Goldman called it a "bittersweet victory.''

"It's a no-win situation, and this is the lesser of all evils."

Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his ex-wife and Goldman in 1995. A civil court jury found him liable for their deaths in 1997, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages to the families of the victims.

Last fall, News Corp. and its publishing subsidiary, HarperCollins, announced plans to release the book and a two-part television interview with Simpson. At the time, Goldman described the project as morally repugnant and said the book should never see the light of day. His family launched a Web site,, which urged consumers around the country to boycott HarperCollins and News Corp.

The subsequent public outrage caused a cancellation of the entire project, and a rare public apology from media baron Rupert Murdoch.

By the time the project came to light, Simpson had already received more than $800,000 for his participation -- and promptly spent it.

He defended himself at the time, saying the project was thrust upon him.

"Was it tacky? Yes, it was tacky, but it was brought to me. I didn't have an agent out there saying, 'Here's a book from O.J.," he said.

The renewed attention on the disgraced football great seems to have reinvigorated the Goldmans' campaign to wring whatever money they can out of Simpson. The Goldman family's lawyers spent much of last fall and winter in court. Among the fruits of their motions is the planned auction of the book.

But the auction appears fraught with legal uncertainties.

Galanter said that Lorraine Brooke Associates, the company set up to receive the profits from the book and television interview deal with HarperCollins, was not properly served and that an attorney for the company has filed a motion seeking to vacate the order to turn the rights over to the Goldmans.

And the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department has written a letter to the judge questioning whether the department has jurisdiction over Lorraine Brooke Associates, a Florida-based company.

Finally, Galanter said, he plans to file a new motion arguing that the entire, multimillion dollar civil judgment against Simpson be vacated because it was allowed to expire last month after 10 years -- a claim the Goldman family lawyers will challenge.

The Goldman and Brown families were awarded $33.5 million in a 1997 wrongful death civil lawsuit that found Simpson liable for the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman.

While Denise Brown has focused on domestic violence prevention in the decade since the murders, the Goldmans invested their energy in punishing Simpson through the courts.

Last month, they succeeded in securing the rights to future royalties from Simpson's movies, television appearances and commercials.