BOISE -- A murder case from March 2011 may be resolved before it ever goes to a jury. Attorneys for the state and for defendant Robert Hall have filed with the court intentions to use mediation before the trial, now scheduled for October.
Hall is accused of confronting, shooting and killing Meridian attorney Emmett Corrigan in a Walgreens parking lot on a Friday night. Prosecutors say Hall shot Corrigan twice and himself once.
This case has now been in the court system for more than 16 months with a trial date reset a number of times. Hundreds of pages of court documents reveal there are more than 100 possible witnesses and dozens of pieces of evidence. A trial is estimated to take three weeks.
Recent court records show both sides are looking to use mediation, a new method for criminal cases in Idaho. The court rule was adopted in 2011 and was just amended in July. Former Idaho Attorney General David Leroy is not involved in Hall's case, but as a legal expert explains mediation is a formal way to resolve the case with the help of an approved outside judge.
"If either the prosecutor or the defense lawyer has not been successful in opening up a traditional plea bargaining negotiation, getting a third party involved might bring some creative ideas to the table, that could actually settle a case instead of see it go to trial," Leroy said. "It's designed to have the parties have more control over the outcome, and to do it quicker, to do it more cheaply."
Because the rule is so new, Leroy says it's an unusual route, and perhaps unprecedented in murder cases within the state.
"As far as I know this is the first opportunity that it's been employed in a murder case in Idaho," Leroy said.
Leroy says a number of things from plea bargains to evidence could be discussed confidentially in mediation. It is possible one or both sides is entering mediation with the intention of working out issues but still going to trial.
Ultimately, if any agreements were reached in this case, the trial judge would have to approve them. The judge has set a September 21 deadline for Hall's attorneys and the state to finish any mediation.
"This will be an interesting test to see if mediation in as serious a charge as a murder trial can be effective. It may be used as either an example for the good or the bad elsewhere in Idaho in other murder cases in the future," Leroy said.
Rob Hall's wife Kandi Hall is the prosecution's only eyewitness. Prosecutors say she was standing close to both men when the shooting happened. Court documents show the state's theory is "that Robert Hall killed Emmett Corrigan to prevent Kandi Hall from leaving him to be with Emmett."
The couple is court-ordered not to speak to one another, but Rob Hall has been in trouble since his arrest for violating that order. Included in records are excerpts of letters and phone calls between he and his children. Prosecutors say he has been trying to pass coded messages through them to his wife.
Other possible witnesses who could be called in the case include doctors who say Hall does not remember the shooting because of his own gunshot wounds and Kandi Hall's relatives and friends who might offer testimony that she expressed intent to divorce her husband.