The Montana man accused in a 1987 child rape told the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday that its earlier rulings prevent him from being tried in the case.
Ronald Dwight Tipton, 58, was previously charged with raping an 8-year-old in her home more than 30 years ago, but the charges were ordered dismissed by the Montana Supreme Court.
Attorney General Tim Fox has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene by revisiting an earlier ruling it says prevents the state from bringing sex offenders to justice in cold cases.
But in a response filed Wednesday, Tipton’s attorney said the law is in his favor.
“Montana asks this Court to review the (earlier ruling) not because it implicates a split among the lower courts on an important federal issue, but because the federal constitutional question presented in the petition has already been decided, and Montana doesn’t like the result,” wrote Tipton’s attorney, Michael Kimberly, of Washington, D.C.
Kimberly said the earlier ruling that has blocked Tipton from being tried, Stogner v. California, has only hindered states in a “sliver-thin range of cases.”
Kimberly wrote that both of the examples Fox cited in Montana’s filings involve murders, which are not subject to the statute of limitations, and for which the offenders will regardless serve the rest of their lives in prison. For instance, a Kansas man convicted of raping and killing a 73-year-old woman later had his rape conviction tossed, but the murder conviction remains.
“There is accordingly no need for this Court’s intervention,” Kimberly wrote.