Criminal Justice

Ex-lawyer serving time in rare dog-maul murder case asks 9th Circuit to nix conviction

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A former lawyer serving time after a rare second-degree murder conviction in a dog-mauling case is hoping a federal appeals court will overturn her conviction in the death of a San Francisco neighbor more than a decade ago.

Arguments that the judge and prosecutor in Marjorie Knoller’s trial behaved inappropriately were heard Monday in San Francisco by a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While questioning whether the conduct made any difference in the outcome of the case, the panel also focused on claims that Knoller didn’t get a fair trial, the San Jose Mercury News reports. An earlier Mercury News article provides additional details.

“What concerns me is the muzzling of the defense attorney with a threat,” said Judge M. Margaret McKeown, referring to the then-possibility that Knoller’s counsel would be jailed over the way the high-profile case was defended. “It’s an important case and the issues are important.”

The case, which made international headlines at the time, involved two large aggressive dogs that escaped Knoller’s control and attacked and killed a neighbor as she was trying to enter her home from a hallway of the building in which Knoller also lived.

“The evidence in this case was very strong,” deputy attorney general Peggy Ruffa told the panel.

Knoller is serving a sentence of 15 years to life.

Hat tip: Daily Mail.

Related coverage: “Ex-Lawyer Again Convicted of Murder in Neighbor’s Dog-Mauling Death”

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