An attorney for convicted rapist Andrew Luster said Friday he plans to appeal the case despite the absence of his client, who skipped town three months ago during a break in his Ventura County trial.
Roger Jon Diamond filed a notice of intent to appeal in Ventura County Superior Court this week, marking the first step in a months-long process aimed at overturning Luster's conviction.
"I'm doing it not because he told me to, but because as the attorney of record I have an obligation to file a notice of appeal," Diamond said. "It would be ethically improper for me not to file it."
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Tony Wold, who prosecuted Luster, said Diamond faces an uphill battle trying to assert a defendant's personal right of appeal "vicariously without the defendant's consent."
Wold said an appeal "adds insult to injury" after Luster, great-grandson of cosmetics founder Max Factor, fled in the middle of his trial.
Eighteen days later, jurors found Luster guilty on 86 counts of drugging and raping three women at his Mussel Shoals beach house. He faces 124 years in prison if apprehended.
"I think it's somewhat inconsistent to seek the protection of the judicial system by filing an appeal claiming that your trial was somehow flawed," Wold said, "while at the same time you have expressed your scorn for the judicial system by running away from your trial."
But Diamond insisted he had the right to file an appeal on behalf of Luster, citing a March 12 appellate court ruling in favor of an attorney who did the same thing for a fugitive client.
While the notice of intent does not include any arguments for an appeal, Diamond said he will challenge the conviction on two dozen issues, from the police search of Luster's home that turned up videotapes he made of victims to certain victims' testimony at trial.
Diamond said he expects the state attorney general's office to attempt to dismiss the appeal.