LAS VEGAS -- A Nevada judge agreed Friday to reopen the armed robbery and kidnapping case against O.J. Simpson to determine if the former football star was so badly represented by his lawyers that he should be freed from prison and get another trial.
Simpson wasn't in the Las Vegas courtroom while Clark County District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell agreed to hear evidence and consider 18 of 22 questions cited in a May appeal by Simpson appeals lawyer Patricia Palm.
The judge dismissed four other grounds on which the 65-year-old Simpson seeks release from state prison, where he is serving nine to 33 years.
The development could put Simpson on the witness stand for the first time. He stood trial in 2008 after authorities said he led five men, including two with guns, in a September 2007 confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers and a middleman in a cramped room at a Las Vegas casino-hotel.
The judge also granted a waiver of attorney-client privilege on questions in dispute between Simpson and his trial lawyer, Yale Galanter.
A key question will be whether Galanter had personal financial and business interests that posed a conflict that should have precluded him from handling Simpson's case.
"Galanter was motivated by his own interests, which caused him to materially limit Simpson's legal representation," the appeal states. "Galanter remained on the case until rehearing was denied and denied Simpson the opportunity to raise this issue."
Galanter declined comment Friday.
Simpson trial prosecutor Chris Owens protested that Palm was rehashing issues long settled by Simpson's conviction, which was upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.
"She's just second-guessing what they did," Owens said. "It's hindsight."
But Palm said Simpson wants a chance to show that Galanter was in Las Vegas and knew in advance about Simpson's plan to retrieve items from the memorabilia dealers that Simpson claimed were stolen from him after his 1995 acquittal in the Los Angeles slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Galanter, a Miami lawyer who represented Simpson in other cases before the arrest in Las Vegas, denied during trial that he had anything to do with the ill-fated Las Vegas caper.
"Judge, I tell you ... I wasn't there," Galanter said at the time. "I had nothing to do with it."
Simpson claims Galanter advised him that the plan to confront the two memorabilia dealers was legally permissible as long as no one trespassed on private property and no physical force was used.
Simpson also claims he was never advised that the Clark County district attorney offered a pretrial deal that could have gotten Simpson two to five years in prison for pleading guilty to robbery. Palm says Simpson would have taken the offer.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press