Convicted child molester Newton Estes, who once slugged a U.S. Supreme Court justice to protest pornography, is upset because, among other things, he doesn't have access to a good library at the Utah State Prison.
But Utah Supreme Court justices told Estes' wife Monday that he should go to a lower court first before bringing his problems to them.Estes filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to release him from prison, staying his sentence of five years to life. His wife stood in the courtroom and spoke briefly on his behalf because Estes, although representing himself in the appeal, is confined to a cell.
She said the petition was originally filed in 2nd District Court and she learned by accident the Supreme Court was going to hear the matter.
Assistant Attorney General Dan. R. Larsen argued the petition was premature, that a lower court has to reject Newton's petition before it can be brought to the state Supreme Court.
Justices agreed. "We can't entertain a petition for a stay until the sentencing judge rules on it," said Justice Michael David Zimmerman.
Larsen said Newton believes he was improperly sentenced, that his right against self-incrimination was abused by prosecutors and the court and that he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge but was given the same punishment he would have gotten if convicted of the more serious complaint.
He also wants access to a library containing up-to-date versions of state laws.
Estes was charged earlier this year with sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl who worked in his home as a housekeeper. He was accused of showing her photographs of nude women and asking her to take off her clothes and assume poses similar to those of the models. He also was accused of taking off the girl's pants and fondling her.
He pleaded guilty in June to lesser charges of attempted forcible sexual abuse of a child and showing harmful material to a child.
At the time of sentencing, Estes reacted angrily, claiming he had been tricked into pleading guilty to a lesser crime on the belief he would be given a lighter sentence.
He also claims Adult Probation and Parole officials made statements against him at sentencing despite promises to the contrary.