'Dog' digs in to appeal extradition
An attorney for Duane "Dog" Chapman said a federal judge in Guadalajara, Mexico, made an error in a ruling last week that seemed to clear the way for the Hawaii-based bounty hunter's extradition to Mexico.
"Nobody is going anywhere right now," said California-based attorney William Bollard after receiving the judge's official ruling yesterday. "The court got it wrong."
Mexican authorities sought the extradition of Chapman and two of his partners for their role in capturing a fugitive convicted rapist, Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, in Puerto Vallarta in 2003. Bounty hunting in Mexico is illegal without supervision.
The bounty hunter team left Mexico after being released from jail and did not voluntarily return to face charges of depriving the liberty of Luster, who was brought to California to serve a 124-year sentence.
Last week, the Associated Press reported that a Mexican judge had denied Chapman's challenge to the arrest warrant, clearing the way for extradition of the three men who appear in the reality TV show "Dog, the Bounty Hunter."
After reviewing the ruling yesterday, Bollard said he will file an appeal Tuesday.
"We continue to have complete confidence that a full consideration of the merits of our (constitutional challenge) will result in justice being done and our clients' exoneration," he said.
The district court judge used a minor detail in the law to deny Chapman's injunction request, Bollard said. In explaining his decision, the judge cited a Mexican law that says a constitutional challenge, or an appeal, cannot be considered simultaneously with another appeal that could change the arrest warrant.
But the law specifies two appeals from the same party, according to Bollard. In Chapman's case the other appeal is from prosecutors asking the judge to reinstate a conspiracy charge that was dropped when Chapman's arrest warrant was issued. The prosecutors' appeal is pending.
Chapman's lawyer will now file an appeal with the federal circuit court, and called the turn of events encouraging because the appellate court has a panel of judges whom he believes will provide a fair hearing. A decision could come within six weeks, Bollard said.
If convicted, Chapman could be sentenced to up to four years in prison. Chapman's son Leland and associate Timothy Chapman (no relation) also face prosecution in Mexico.
Their attorneys claim the Chapman team made a good-faith attempt to work with police in Mexico before detaining Luster.
If the court grants the Chapman appeal and the prosecution's appeal is denied, the trial in Mexico could end, and Chapman's attorney in Honolulu would present the ruling to the state to have the extradition proceeding dismissed.