OJ Judge Known for Stern Lectures, Stiff Sentences

By: Ken Ritter AP
By: Ken Ritter AP

LAS VEGAS (AP) - If O.J. Simpson is looking for a break from the Nevada judge who will sentence him for kidnapping and armed robbery, he may be in the wrong courtroom.

Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass is known for giving severe sentences and tongue-lashings to high-profile defendants, and she has blasted Simpson before.

"I think she's one of the tougher sentencing judges," said attorney Michael Cristalli, who has represented clients in front of Glass. "I don't think there's much contention about that."

On Friday, Glass will sentence Simpson and a golfing buddy on 12 criminal charges that arose from a hotel-room confrontation with two sports-memorabilia dealers who were peddling items from Simpson's glory days.

Glass berated the former football star from the bench in January, accusing him of "arrogance or ignorance or both," and doubling his bail to $250,000 after he violated terms of his release.

The last high-profile defendants Glass sentenced were former bodybuilding champion Craig Titus and his wife, Kelly Ryan. Titus admitted killing the couple's live-in personal assistant, and both pleaded guilty to burning the woman's body.

"Mr. Titus came into this process a big man - muscles, famous, in control," Glass said in August as she sentenced Titus to 21 to 55 years. "He's not anything anymore."

Titus' lawyer, Marc Saggese, complained that Glass "blindsided" him by adding four years to an agreed-upon minimum of 17 years. Glass gave Ryan six to 26 years for lesser charges.

Immediately after Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart were convicted in October, Glass had them both slapped in handcuffs and hauled off to jail. At a later hearing, she refused to allow them to appear in street clothes. They attended in shackles and jail garb instead.

Their convictions carry mandatory prison time, but judges in Nevada have broad discretion in determining whether to run sentences consecutively or at the same time.

Glass could put the 61-year-old Simpson and Stewart in prison for the rest of their lives. She also could follow a recommendation from the state parole agency calling for at least 18 years.

Or she could accept defense arguments that neither man has a criminal record and each should receive the minimum six years.

Stewart, a 54-year-old mortgage broker, said this week that he was mentoring younger jail inmates and preparing himself for "a lot of time" in prison.

Attorneys for Simpson said they were bracing for the worst.

"We're hoping the judge follows our recommendations," said Gabriel Grasso, a Simpson lawyer. "However, we're prepared for longer."

Glass, who was elected as a state judge in 2002, is prohibited by judicial rules from discussing the case. But the judge, who presided over 13 days of testimony at Simpson's trial, is anything but a courtroom wallflower.

"As you can see, I'm not stodgy and stuffy," she told the jury. "I am probably more animated than what you expect of a judge. That's not to say I don't take this seriously."

Glass, a petite mother of two with hazel eyes and shoulder-length dark hair, sometimes wears blue jeans beneath her robes. She has a reputation as a get-it-done jurist, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada has accused her of sacrificing defendants' constitutional rights for court efficiency.

She scheduled trial days in the Simpson case from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and once told jurors to snap elastic bands on their wrists if they felt themselves nodding off to sleep.

Glass sometimes pounded on the bench, yelling, "Stop! Stop! Stop!" to curb lawyers' objections or cut off arguments. The refrain, "Sit down, Mr. Galanter!" echoed in the courtroom as Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter continued arguing his points. TV host Jay Leno and "Saturday Night Live" parodied Glass in jokes about the trial.

Glass' toughest trial day was when the lead investigator in the case blurted out a claim of possible misconduct by a Simpson friend. The dispute over the gaffe threatened to derail the trial in its final day.

"I'm surprised you haven't seen my head spin and fire come out of my mouth at this point in this trial," she said from the bench.

Glass, 52, is a former local TV reporter who went into law after meeting her attorney husband in a courthouse hallway. She is a 1984
graduate of the University of San Diego School of Law and has been
married for 22 years to Steven Wolfson, a member of the Las Vegas
City Council.

Detractors accuse Glass of rejecting challenges to her rulings and of failing to provide defense lawyers with full reports about mentally troubled defendants.

"A common problem we see coming out of her courtroom is she reduces or eliminates the defense ability to present a case," said Howard Brooks, a deputy county public defender who handles appeals.

Some observers think Glass will pick a mid-range sentence for Simpson and Stewart to avoid the perception that Simpson's conviction in the Sept. 13, 2007, hotel-room encounter was connected with his acquittal in Los Angeles in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

"The elephant in the room is that she can't appear to be punishing him for California," said Gary Hengstler, director of the Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"She doesn't want to appear too lenient, because (Simpson) was
convicted on every count," Hengstler said. "But in relation to what we usually think of as kidnapping, this was on the low end of the scale. I think she'll split the difference."
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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this
report.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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