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Will the Juice be on the loose?

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O.J. Simpson leaves the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada Thursday Oct. 2, 2008.
Photo: Steve Marcus

Today is O.J. Simpson’s birthday and if he gets his wish, the Juice may soon be on the loose.

The former football star is in lock-up in Lovelock following his conviction on 12 charges stemming from a September, 2007 run-in with two memorabilia dealers in a Palace Station hotel room.

He was sentenced on Oct. 3 to a maximum 33 years in prison with no chance of parole for nine years.

The Heisman Trophy winner and his co-accused, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, were convicted on all counts stemming from the now-famous incident, including two counts of kidnapping, robbery, and assault with use of a deadly weapon.

Simpson’s longtime attorney Yale Galanter previously said an appeal was his client’s “only hope.”

Together with and Simpson’s other lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, Galanter will soon ask the Nevada Supreme Court to grant the embattled NFL great bail while they seek an appeal.

A three-justice panel will hear oral arguments in a Las Vegas courtroom on Aug. 3.

LaVergne said bail would be a great belated 62nd birthday gift for his client.

“He’s very excited that there’s going to be a hearing, that’s a good birthday present for him,” he said.

While LaVergne did not represent Simpson during his three-week trial last fall, he joined Simpson’s legal team in May when he replaced outgoing attorney Gabe Grasso.

There will be no candles on the cake today for the former All-Pro running back.

“The Nevada prison system does not have protocol for birthdays,” LaVergne said.

The attorney also said he did not know what plans, if any, the fallen football hero had for today or if he was expecting any visitors.

“There’s a limited list of people who can go visit him,” he said, “(and) that’s all confidential.”

LaVergne hasn’t spoken to Simpson in a while but said his client has been a “model” prisoner while serving his sentence and has adjusted reasonably well to life behind bars.

“He’s doing well,” he said, noting, “He has to be secluded in prison because of who he is. He’s doing as well as he possibly can for someone who’s confined.”

LaVergne is hopeful that the panel will agree that Simpson is not a flight risk or public danger, and will grant him bail next month.

Still, he called the possibility of Simpson being released the day of the hearing “a highly unlikely scenario.”

“Nothing will happen that day,” he said, explaining that even if bail is granted, terms and conditions will have to be set, then satisfied before Simpson is released.

Such possible conditions could include remaining in Nevada and checking-in with a probation officer, among others, according to LaVergne.

The defense attorney expects the panel to take a few days before they make up their minds and, if successful, to have Simpson released “a few weeks down the road.”

Only after that happens will Simpson be able to throw himself a belated birthday party.

Until then, however, LaVergne said “He’s got bigger things on his mind than his birthday.”

Melissa Arseniuk writes about Las Vegas entertainment and celebrity events. She can be reached at 702-948-7823 or by e-mail at melissa.arseniuk@lasvegassun.com.

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