"We're done!" Judge sanctions attorney who filed last minute, error-filled motion to have Daybell case delayed - East Idaho News
ATTORNEY SANCTIONED

“We’re done!” Judge sanctions attorney who filed last minute, error-filled motion to have Daybell case delayed

  Published at  | Updated at

BOISE — Judge Steven Boyce sanctioned a Mountain Home lawyer Thursday afternoon for filing a late night error-filled motion asking to intervene in the murder case of Chad Daybell.

Boyce told attorney Terry Ratliff he was angry when the motion was filed “and I think I’m angrier now” during the tense 20 minute hearing in Ada County.

Ratliff filed the motion to intervene and continue the trial on Friday, March 29 at 11:42 p.m., just two days before jury selection was set to begin in the case. Several words were misspelled – including “motion,” “continue,” “proceedings” and Ratliff had the case number wrong, according to Boyce. He also claimed three times in the motion that he represented Daybell as his defense attorney, but that was not true.

RELATED | Judge seals last minute motion asking to delay Chad Daybell’s trial; jury selection continues

The filing was entered into the iCourt system on Sunday, March 31 – hours before potential jurors were scheduled to arrive at the courthouse. Boyce, his staff and attorneys had spent the previous week going through juror questionaries in Boise.

“On Easter Sunday, my staff attorney, who had an opportunity finally to travel home and spend Easter with her family after a very long week, was interrupted out of her church services,” Boyce said. “She contacted the court and said we had an emergency. The emergency was we had a motion to continue the trial.”

judge steven boyce
District Judge Steven Boyce | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

Boyce had to contact the prosecution and defense and work with court clerks to deal with the motion. He immediately sealed it and a hearing was later scheduled for Thursday. The motion was still sealed as of Thursday afternoon when Ratliff showed up with his attorney, Michael Bartlett.

“While I appreciate the time and research Mr. Bartlett has put into the case, we don’t have a party appearing in this case before me. You are not the defendant, you are not the state, you are not the prosecutor, you are not the defense attorney,” Boyce said to Ratliff. “You are an attorney with a license who filed something asking me to stop this trial when I don’t think you had legal standing to do that…I’m going to tell you Mr. Ratliff, I was angry then and I think I’m angrier now about what you did.”

Boyce told Ratliff he had some questions for him – not his attorney – because he was the one who filed the motion on his official letterhead. Ratliff said he made an error in claiming to be Daybell’s defense attorney.

“This is a template form and I simply forgot to take it off,” Ratliff said. “In the body of the motion, I say I am filing it without permission of the defendant or his counsel.”

Boyce asked who he was representing. Ratliff responded he should have signed the motion as “citizen.”

“You’ve got your name, your Idaho state bar number, your Ratliff Law Office and attorney for defendant. You’re telling me you mistakingly filed something as a citizen and not an attorney?” Boyce asked. “Why were you doing that on a Friday night at almost midnight?”

Ratliff responded that he needed to do something to slow the case down to which Boyce replied, “This trial is scheduled for how many years and you wanted to slow it down the day before it started?”

Ratliff told Boyce he had received calls from defense attorney John Prior about possibly helping in the case but admitted he was never retained as counsel. When Ratliff mentioned he wanted to intervene as “citizen at large,” Boyce asked why he filed as an attorney. Ratliff responded that it was semantics, to which Boyce interjected.

“Whoa – let me stop you there. It absolutely is not. A bar-licensed attorney filing something with their bar number is completely different than a citizen. That is not semantics,” Boyce said.

When asked to explain the misspellings and errors, Ratliff said he was nervous, it was late at night and he “didn’t take this lightly.

“You didn’t take it lightly but you used the wrong form, you misrepresented if you were an attorney or a citizen and you signed three times you were an attorney for the defendant,” Boyce said.

The judge ruled Ratliff violated the Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure and sanctioned the attorney. He was ordered to reimburse the defense, prosecution and court for time spent working on the motion.

As Bartlett asked to interject at the end of the hearing, Boyce said, “You may not. I’m done with this issue and I’m done wasting time on this issue in the middle of a capital case. We’re done. We’re in recess. Period.”

Bartlett and Ratliff told EastIdahoNews.com they have no comment.

Watch the hearing in the video player above.

SUBMIT A CORRECTION