BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — In an opinion released Thursday morning, the North Dakota Supreme Court has declared convicted murderer Chad Isaak’s appeal of his convictions as moot, leaving in place his life sentences in the April 2019 Mandan killings of four people.
Following his conviction at trial in 2021, Isaak filed an appeal before the North Dakota Supreme Court.
But in July 2022, Isaak killed himself while in Jail.
The high court asked both parties in the case whether Isaak’s appeal was now moot and whether or not Isaak’s conviction should be abated, or essentially tossed out, because he died before his sentence was technically finalized and he could no longer appear in court if it was necessary.
After lengthy consideration of how abatement applied to Isaak’s case, the court wrote there were no legal controversies left to be decided in the case, noting, “Isaak’s conviction did not result in an order for restitution and all the criminal fees were waived. Isaak’s personal representative has not requested to serve as substitute. We are not aware of any wrongful death suits or claims against Isaak’s estate implicating preclusion questions. None of the victims’ families in this case have asserted a right or interest in having us decide the merits of the appeal. Any solace the guilty verdict provides them could disappear if we reversed the judgment on legal issues. … In a future case, there may be circumstances requiring this Court decide the merits of an appeal after a defendant’s death. None are present here. Isaak is no longer alive to serve his sentence if we were to affirm the judgment. If we were to reverse the judgment, we could not grant Isaak the new trial he sought. Under these circumstances, a decision would be advisory. We dismiss the appeal as moot. The judgment stands as issued by the district court.”
The opinion was unanimous among the five justices.
You can read and download the full legal opinion here.