O.J. Simpson says he can’t pay lawyers’ back bills

By Linda Deutsch The Associated Press
Friday April 19, 2002

LOS ANGELES – O.J. Simpson said Thursday that the law firm suing him for $204,000 in unpaid bills from the custody battle for his children “will have to wait” because he doesn’t have the money to pay them. 

“One thing was clear at the beginning of the custody case – I was broke,” Simpson said in a phone interview from his Florida home. 

“I could not be more grateful to a group of people than I am to them,” Simpson said of the lawyers at Meserve, Mumper and Hughes who represented him. He singled out attorney Bernard Leckie as someone he admires greatly. 

But he said he regrets that the case dragged on for so long before an agreement was reached for him to have custody and take the children with him to Florida. 

He said his financial situation remains precarious with all of his funds devoted to the welfare of his children who attend a costly private school. 

“I don’t go out and buy new clothes. I don’t take trips unless it’s for business,” he said. “My priority is my kids. I have to make sure they’re taken care of.” 

He said that Sydney, 16, is driving and looking at brochures for colleges. She is involved in athletics, as is her brother, Justin, 13, who plays basketball, football and lacrosse, he said. 

“I try to give my kids the best, and to some extent, I guess I spoil them,” he said. “They’re terrific kids and they bring me terrific grades from school.” 

Simpson, who lives on funds from a private pension set up during his days as a Hertz advertising pitchman, said he frequently receives business propositions – “I get all of these crazy offers” – but turns them down. 

In recent months he has appeared at a number of hip-hop events which he said he enjoys because it brings him in contact with the public. And he has appeared as an invited guest at boxing matches in Las Vegas. 

“I’m trying to be the same guy I was before all this happened,” he said. 

The law firm that sued Simpson in Orange County, Calif., says he failed to pay $204,275 in bills. It seeks that amount plus 10 percent interest. 

Simpson retained the firm to seek custody of his two minor children after he was acquitted of murder charges and released from jail in 1995. He had been held without bail from the time of his arrest until his acquittal. 

“Simpson breached the contract and agreement by making payments for a period of time and then ceased to make payments,” the lawsuit said. 

A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury acquitted Simpson of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. A civil jury later held the former football star liable for the killings and ordered him to pay the victims’ survivors $33.5 million. He has not worked since then because any money he makes could be seized to satisfy that judgment which remains largely unpaid. 

He continues to maintain his innocence in the killings. 

His ex-wife’s parents, Louis and Juditha Brown, were guardians of his children while Simpson was on trial. 

In 1996, a judge granted Simpson’s petition to terminate the Browns’ guardianship and gave him custody. The Browns appealed and a settlement was later reached giving the Browns visitation.