Standby defense attorneys for condemned killer Joseph Duncan say the U.S. District Court in Boise has no business holding a hearing on Monday on whether Duncan wants to appeal his death sentence or not, because jurisdiction over the case now falls with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. “This court has no jurisdiction to make the intended inquiry or to strike the notice of appeal as requested by the government,” the attorneys wrote in court documents filed Friday.
They also said they’ve filed a motion to the Court of Appeals asking that experienced appellate attorneys be appointed for Duncan, in part because the existing standby lawyers could be potential witnesses on the issue of whether Duncan intended to appeal or not, and on “his mental illness.”
The 45-year-old admitted killing four members of a North Idaho family and kidnapping and sexually assaulting the family’s two youngest children. Duncan was sentenced to death three times over for the murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene. He’s also received nine life terms for the crimes. The standby attorneys filed a notice of appeal this week, but Duncan then sent the court a letter saying he didn’t want to appeal, and federal prosecutors moved to dismiss the appeal, saying the decision to appeal is up to Duncan, not his standby attorneys. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge set a hearing for Monday in Boise to sort it all out.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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