LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Former football star O.J. Simpson's hopes of being let out of prison while the Nevada Supreme Court considers his appeal have been dashed.
His lawyer say there's not much to be made of the decision that followed a rare hearing before the state high court, and Simpson remains optimistic about getting his conviction in a gunpoint hotel room heist overturned.
If his appeal is denied, the 62-year-old NFL Hall of Famer who had been acquitted in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in Los Angeles will serve nine to 33 years in Nevada for an armed escapade with golfing buddies to retrieve items that he claimed were stolen from him.
Simpson is being held at Lovelock Correctional Center. Stewart, 55, is serving 71/2 to 27 years at Northern Nevada Correctional Center.
Other veteran defense lawyers not connected to the case said the court did not tip its hand on how it might rule on the appeal but predicted the justices would continue to give the case special treatment because of Simpson's celebrity.
"The shocking thing is that they gave a hearing on bail at all," said Howard Brooks, the Clark County public defender who handles appeals for the busiest court in the state. It was more than eight years since the Nevada Supreme Court heard such an argument.
"This is never going to be a normal case, because it's O.J. Simpson," Brooks said.
Lawyers for Simpson and convicted co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart's lawyer had hoped being granted the bail hearing last month signaled that the state's only appellate court might see faults in their clients' convictions and be ready to rule they didn't receive a fair trial.
"I can't read anything from it," Simpson's attorney Yale Galanter said. "I'm not sure why they granted these hearings to begin with."
Despite Galanter's argument that Simpson is one of the most recognizable people on the planet and couldn't possibly run and hide, justices Michael Cherry, Nancy Saitta and Mark Gibbons ruled Sept. 4 that it would be too tempting for Simpson and Stewart to flee to avoid going back to prison if they lose their appeals.
Robert Langford, a Las Vegas defense lawyer who has argued cases before state and federal appeals courts, said he didn't read anything into the terse unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel "other than that they didn't believe bond is appropriate pending appeal."
"I don't think it says much about what might happen on the merits of the appeal," Langford said.
Galanter said Simpson believes the appellate process will ultimately vindicate him. Meanwhile his famous client will remain in state prison while the Supreme Court decides whether to uphold his conviction or order a new trial on kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges. That could take a year or more.
Galanter and Stewart's lawyer, Brent Bryson, said they would not challenge the bail decision but instead focus on their respective appeals, filed last May.
"I think once they do an in-depth analysis of the appellate issues, that we have a strong chance of getting another trial for Mr. Stewart," he said.
Bryson said Stewart remains upbeat and optimistic. Meanwhile Bryson said he has asked for the chance to argue his appeal before the justices.
Brooks predicted the court would agree to hear oral arguments.
"I guarantee that if it wasn't O.J. Simpson, this type of case wouldn't get oral arguments," he said.
The men were tried together and found guilty last October of all 12 charges stemming from a confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room in September 2007. Four other men who were with them took plea deals and received probation after testifying for the prosecution.
Simpson's lawyers maintained he was trying to retrieve personal items that had been stolen from him and didn't know guns were involved.
Stewart's lawyers said he went with Simpson to the Palace Station hotel-casino to help retrieve belongings and had no knowledge a crime would be committed.
Galanter challenged Simpson's conviction on grounds including judicial misconduct, insufficient evidence, a lack of racial diversity on the jury and errors in sentencing and jury instructions. Simpson's appeal accused Glass of preventing him from getting a fair trial, and accused prosecutors of improperly asking questions about allegations of witness intimidation in front of the jury.