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Both sides contest new hearing in controversial Montana rape case

From Kyung Lah, CNN
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Thu September 5, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Prosecutors file an emergency petition to stop the hearing
  • District Judge G. Todd Baugh has scheduled the hearing for Friday
  • He says a 30-day sentence he imposed on a teacher who raped his student may be illegal

(CNN) -- An attorney for a Montana teacher who admitted to raping his 14-year-old student is asking the judge in the case to cancel a hearing scheduled for Friday.

In a response filed Thursday with the Yellowstone County Court, attorney Jay Lansing joined prosecutors in saying that the new hearing would be "without legal authority."

The judge scheduled the hearing after admitting that the sentence he imposed may have been against the law.

The case drew widespread attention when District Judge G. Todd Baugh imposed the 30-day sentence on Stacey Dean Rambold and made controversial comments about the victim, saying she "seemed older than her chronological age."

In an order this week, the judge said that it now appears the mandatory minimum is two years, not 30 days. He said the court, "if necessary and appropriate," would amend the sentence at Friday's hearing.

Such a hearing, however, would "create confusion and uncertainty for all parties left to interpret and execute the sentence of Mr. Rambold," Lansing argued.

He said his client contends the sentence imposed, which prosecutors are appealing, is lawful and appropriate.

Also Thursday, prosecutors filed an emergency petition with the Montana Supreme Court, asking it to stop the scheduled hearing.

While acknowledging "the district court's effort to correct the error at the trial court level," they wrote that the "only remedy prescribed by statute and case law is appeal before this Court.

"Further, the September 6 hearing, if permitted to be conducted, will undermine the State's appeal and otherwise frustrate the just and orderly administration of ordinary appeal processes," the petition read.

Rambold admitted raping the girl while he was her teacher at her high school.

Cherice Moralez was 14 at the time. She took her own life shortly before her 17th birthday.

CNN's Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.

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