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O.J. Simpson Fails To Block TV Movie

Logo - RecorderSeptember 7, 2000 | The Recorder

By Gail Diane Cox

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge cleared the way Wednesday for television viewers to watch actors exchange what O.J. Simpson contends are privileged confidences between him and his criminal defense team.

Judge David Yaffe refused to block a miniseries, American Tragedy, set for November on CBS. Like the 1996 book it was based on, it purports to tell the inside story of how Simpson’s attorneys won his acquittal on murder charges.

An injunction isn’t needed, the judge said, because “any harm is redressable in damages” when and if Simpson’s suit for breach of fiduciary duty is tried. The suit alleges author/producer Lawrence Schiller “insinuated himself” into the Simpson camp so as to profit from confidences extracted with the help of former Simpson friend Robert Kardashian. Simpson maintains he let his former attorneys talk to Schiller because Schiller promised Simpson could approve the final draft.

Yaffe’s denial was a win for Gary Bostwick of the Los Angeles office of Seattle’s Davis Wright Tremaine, who told the court “prior restraint under the First Amendment carries with it grave burdens” Simpson’s counsel had not met. Bostwick also questioned the crux of the suit: that a journalist would strike an oral deal with the principal figure he was writing about to let Simpson read and change his work.

Simpson’s counsel, Terry Gross of San Francisco’s Gross & Belsky, asked the judge to keep the script sealed in case his client appeals.