Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Rhode Island Supreme Court
by
In this case stemming from an incident that allegedly took place while Plaintiff was held in pretrial detention at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants following entry of an order that denied Plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error. In his complaint, Plaintiff, who was serving consecutive sentences of life imprisonment, alleged that he was attacked by a fellow inmate and that the attack was made possible by a correctional officer. Plaintiff sued ACI, the state, and various John Does, alleging negligence for failing properly to protect him. The trial justice granted Defendants' motion to dismiss based on Rhode Island's civil death statute, R.I. Gen. Laws 13-6-1. Thereafter, the trial justice denied Plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice properly denied Plaintiff's motion to amend; and (2) Plaintiff's arguments that the civil death statute is unconstitutional on various grounds were barred by the "raise-or-waive" rule and procedural law. View "Gallop v. Adult Correctional Institutions" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest, holding that the trial justice did not err by denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial justice overlooked and misconceived material evidence concerning the charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and resisting arrest and therefore erred by denying his motion for a new trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where the trial justice complied with the directives contained in Rule 33 of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure and articulated adequate grounds for denying Defendant's motion for a new trial, the justice did not err in denying the motion for a new trial. View "State v. Neugent" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss one count of first-degree sexual assault on the grounds of double jeopardy and prosecutorial misconduct, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his claims. Defendant was found guilty of assault and battery and acquitted as to several offenses, but as to the charge for first-degree sexual assault based upon anal penetration, the jury deadlocked and did not reach a verdict. When it became evident that the State would retry Defendant on the deadlocked count, Defendant filed several pretrial motions. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the sole remaining count, arguing that double jeopardy barred a retrial of acquitted conduct that arose from the same set of facts previously decided by the jury and that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct. Defendant further sought to exclude any reference to acquitted conduct from the first trial. The trial justice denied Defendant's motions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's first argument conflated a double jeopardy contention with one that was evidentiary, and whether Defendant's acquitted conduct was admissible under R.I. R. Evid. 404(b) at his retrial was an issue not properly before the court; and (2) Defendant's prosecutorial misconduct argument was not preserved for appeal. View "State v. Forlasto" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the superior court judgment adjudicating Defendant a probation violator and a superior court order denying Defendant's motion to terminate imprisonment, holding that the hearing justices did not act arbitrarily or capriciously or err in denying Defendant's motions. Defendant pled guilty to first-degree sexual assault and assault with a dangerous weapon. Subsequently, Defendant pled nolo contendere to charges of failing to register as a sex offender. Later, a hearing justice adjudicated Defendant a probation violator by failing to keep the peace and be of good behavior. While his first appeal was pending, Defendant filed a pro se motion to terminate his sentence of imprisonment, asserting that the requirements of R.I. Gen. Laws 12-19-18(b)(5) were satisfied under the facts of his case. The hearing justice denied Defendant's motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the hearing justice did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in finding that Defendant had violated the terms of his probation; and (2) the second hearing justice did not err in denying Defendant's motion to terminate his imprisonment because there was ample evidence to support the conclusion that section 12-19-18(b)(5) was inapplicable to the instant case. View "State v. Murray" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Petitioner's appeal from a decision of a drug court magistrate upholding a determination by the Sex Offender Board of Review classifying Petitioner as a Level II, moderate-risk sex offender, holding that Petitioner's classification was lawful and proper. On appeal, Petitioner argued that the Board violated his rights to due process, to the presumption of innocence, and to be protected from double jeopardy by relying on alleged impermissible hearsay allegations for conduct for which he was eventually acquitted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioner failed to demonstrate that his right to procedural due process was violated; (2) the Board considered numerous factors in making its determination; and (3) Petitioner's classification did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause, and the Board's actions were not in the context of a criminal trial and did not implicate Petitioner's right to a fair trial. View "DiCarlo v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's complaint alleging various claims under, inter alia, the Rhode Island Wiretap Act, state privacy laws, and federal laws after Defendants installed software on Plaintiff's work computer without his knowledge that intercepted Plaintiff's emails and online activities, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. Plaintiff was employed by Defendants before his arrest and eventual conviction for possession of child pornography. Defendant had installed tracking software on Plaintiff's work computer that recorded Plaintiff's online activities and emailed the record to Defendants. The hearing justice found that the intercepted information was disclosed to the police department, leading to Plaintiff's arrest and conviction, that the claims set forth in Plaintiff's complaint were barred by limitations, and that there was no evidence indicating that Defendants had fraudulently concealed the conduct that formed the basis of Plaintiff's computer crime claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's claims were time-barred; (2) Plaintiff could not benefit from the tolling provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws 9-1-20; and (3) the continuing violation doctrine did not apply to Plaintiff's Rhode Island Wiretap Act claim against Defendants. View "Boudreau v. Automatic Temperature Controls, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of assault with a dangerous weapon and malicious injury to property, holding that the trial justice did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. In his motion for a new trial, Defendant argued that the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court, holding that the trial justice articulated adequate grounds for denying the motion, carefully reviewed the testimony and weighed the evidence before him, and properly concluded, based on his own credibility determinations, that the weight of the evidence supported guilty verdicts as to both counts. View "State v. Najera" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Appellant's application for postconviction relief, holding that the postconviction hearing justice did not err in denying Appellant's application. Twelve years after Appellant entered a nolo contendere plea to the charge of possession of cocaine Appellant filed an application for postconviction relief alleging, among other things, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because he was not advised of the immigration consequences of his plea. The postconvcition hearing justice denied the application and declined to address the State's issue of laches. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's arguments on appeal lacked merit and that Appellant's petition for postconviction relief could also have been denied based on the doctrine of laches. View "Desamours v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct, holding that the trial justice did not err in determining that Defendant had waived his constitutional right to counsel. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial justice erred in concluding that he made a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent waiver of his constitutional right to counsel. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial justice did not err in (1) determining that Defendant voluntarily waived his right to counsel prior to trial; and (2) finding that Defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel. View "State v. Souto" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first-degree murder by use of a firearm he was not licensed to carry, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his allegations of error. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial justice did not err by denying Defendant's pretrial motion to suppress statements he gave to the police in the first of two interrogations; (2) Defendant failed to show that his trial counsel had an actual conflict of interest throughout her representation of him; (3) Defendant waived his argument that the trial court erred in admitting testimonial and photographic evidence suggesting Defendant's affiliation with known gangs; and (4) Defendant waived direct appellate review of challenged jury instructions. View "State v. Andrade" on Justia Law