Lawyers for convicted serial killer Richard Ramirez are scheduled to challenge his death sentence before the California Supreme Court on Tuesday, but the grisly killing spree he was convicted of nearly two decades ago won't be the main subject of debate.
Instead, the focal point will be Ramirez's two defense lawyers, whose inexperience in capital cases and bizarre behavior during the trial, his appellate lawyers argue, should get the man known as the "Night Stalker" off death row.
Ramirez, however, chose his own lawyers and ignored warnings by the judge that they weren't qualified to handle his case. . . .
[R]amirez, now 46, was sentenced to death in 1989 for 13 Los Angeles-area murders committed in 1984 and 1985. Satanic symbols were left at some murder scenes and some victims were forced to "swear to Satan" by the killer, who broke into homes through unlocked windows and doors.
Daniel Hernandez and Arturo Hernandez, who are not related, had a combined five years of experience when they took over as Ramirez's defense lawyers. Both had a history of being held in contempt in Santa Clara County for their handling of cases, and their conduct resulted in the reversal of one murder conviction.
Both were absent for long periods during Ramirez's trial. Daniel Hernandez cited a stress-related illness, and Arturo Hernandez was held in contempt after he told the court he needed to attend his brother's funeral in Mexico when he actually was honeymooning in Europe.
UPDATE: I answered my own question: Arturo Hernandez (SBN 108980) is actively practicing law in San Jose, with no record of disciplinary or administrative actions. And Daniel Hernandez (SBN 109322) is, unfortunately, deceased.