Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Convicted Rapist Andrew Luster Petitions High Court to Revive Appeal
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Convicted rapist Andrew Luster yesterday petitioned the California Supreme Court to revive his appeal, which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal for this district prior to Luster’s capture by bounty hunters and subsequent deportation from Mexico.
Div. Six last month declined to reconsider the dismissal, which it had granted under the fugitive disentitlement doctrine.
The doctrine prevents a litigant from using the court system for his or her benefit while avoiding prosecution or imprisonment, and has been applied to various types of proceedings initiated by a fugitive, including criminal appeals and writ petitions and civil suits unrelated to the criminal proceedings.
Attorneys Roger Jon Diamond of Santa Monica and Kiana Sloan-Hillier of Century City, representing Luster, urged the high court to resolve a conflict between Div. Six’s ruling and that of Div. Four in People v. Kang (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 43, which allowed a defendant convicted of multiple violent felonies to have his appeal reinstated following extradition from South Korea.
Kang is consistent with California authority, going back more than a century—and with cases in other states—allowing a “grace period” for fugitives to return and have their appeals heard on the merits, the attorneys argued.
Luster was convicted in absentia on 86 counts of sex and drug violations based on evidence, including videotapes made by the defendant himself, that he assaulted unconscious women at his beach house after giving them GHB, a drug that rendered them unconscious.
Ventura Superior Court Judge Ken W. Riley declined to delay proceedings after Luster, who had posted $1 million bail and was on electronically monitored house arrest, disappeared. He was sentenced to 124 years in prison.
Denying an ex-fugitive the right to appeal such a harsh sentence violates due process and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, the attorneys said.
“In light of the severity of appellant’s sentence,” they wrote, “which is tantamount to life without parole, dismissal of the appeal constitutes a wholly disproportionate sanction for appellant’s conduct in skipping bail, which is punishable with a maximum sentence of three years.”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company