The Utah Supreme Court on Friday ordered 3rd District Judge Raymond Uno to decide by Nov. 15 whether he will consider granting a new trial to condemned murderer Ralph LeRoy Menzies.
In a brief ruling, the justices declined to otherwise intervene in the case. Defense attorneys are seeking a new trial on grounds an error-riddled transcript makes Menzies' appeals impossible.Prosecutors say former court reporter Tauni Lee, who now lives in California, already has corrected about a third of the 4,300-page transcript.
But they say she has refused to complete the job unless she is paid a salary and given air fare, housing and use of a car for her return trip.
Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Bud Ellett, chief of the office's justice division, said a hearing has been set for Oct. 22 at 11 a.m. on the matter.
"We'll have some suggestions on how to deal with the transcript," Ellett said.
"I don't think a new trial is necessary, but obviously legal defenders disagree," he said. "I think the judge should read it, certify it and then let the Supreme Court decide."
The controversy stems from the transcript Lee prepared in Menzies' six-week trial, when he was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1986 kidnap-murder of Maureen Hunsaker.
Defense attorneys contend the transcript is so full of errors - they cite at least 338 in one 57-page portion - that it is worthless for the purpose of appeal.