A judge in West Jordan's 3rd District Court is forcing an attorney to represent death-row inmate Ralph Leroy Menzies.
In an order signed Wednesday, Judge Stephen Roth appointed Richard P. Mauro to represent Menzies in his future appeals. It comes after no qualified attorneys were willing to accept the case.
"The court ultimately concludes that it has the authority to appoint unwilling counsel to represent the petitioner here, but only if the attorney appointed is justly compensated," Roth wrote in his order.
Menzies was convicted of kidnapping Maurine Hunsaker, 26, from a Kearns convenience store in 1986, strangling her, slitting her throat and tying her body to a tree in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Since his conviction, he's gone through a pair of lawyers in his appeals.
One was judged by the Utah Supreme Court to have done poor work; another withdrew from the case. Other attorneys qualified to handle a death penalty case have declined Menzies' case mostly over money.
"Without exception, the attorneys contacted indicated that, given what is at stake and the amount of time and effort required to competently litigate any post-conviction death penalty case, the amounts available under the regulation are inadequate either to effectively represent the client or to compensate the attorney for what were described as the extraordinary burdens of this kind of work," Roth wrote.In appointing Mauro, the judge said he should apply to the Utah Division of Finance for an initial $5,000 payment and seek a waiver on the state's cap on compensation for legal services.
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