Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of conviction entered in the superior court following a jury trial convicting Defendant of three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of carrying a pistol without a license. The Supreme Court held (1) the superior court justice erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized by police during a warrantless search of Defendant’s home because the state failed to overcome the presumption of unreasonableness that accompanies every warrantless entry into a home; and (2) the admission of the unlawfully seized evidence was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Terzian" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged via a criminal information with breaking and entering a dwelling. After a trial, the trial justice granted Defendant’s motion to pass the case based on based on a comment made by the prosecutor during closing argument. Thereafter, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the information on grounds of double jeopardy. The trial justice denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the State’s actions were not intended to goad Defendant into seeking a mistrial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err in determining that the prosecutor did not intentionally goad Defendant into moving for a mistrial. View "State v. Corleto" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded nolo contendere to assault in a dwelling house with intent to murder while armed with a dangerous weapon and carrying a pistol on or about his person without a license. While Defendant was on parole, he was arrested and charged with domestic assault and failure to relinquish a telephone. Also while on parole Defendant was charged with breaking and entering. After a hearing, Defendant admitted that he violated the terms and conditions of his probation. Defendant later filed an application for postconviction relief alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at the probation violation hearing and that he did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily admit a violation of probation. A hearing justice denied Defendant’s application for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any alleged deficient performance by Defendant’s attorney was not so prejudicial as to deprive Defendant to a fair trial; and (2) Defendant’s admission was made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. View "Gomes v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction on five counts of first-degree child molestation rendered after a jury trial. After denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial, the trial justice sentenced Defendant to five concurrent life sentences. The Supreme Court held (1) in dealing with Defendant’s motion for a new trial, the trial justice did not commit clear error or overlook or misconceive material and relevant evidence relating to a critical issue in the case; and (2) Defendant’s “constitutional right to present a full and fair defense” was not denied when the trial justice minimally limited Defendant’s cross-examination of two witnesses. View "State v. Ogoffa" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled nolo contendere to one count of second-degree sexual assault and one count of intimidation of a witness in a criminal proceeding. Defendant filed an application for postconviction relief alleging that his sentence and conviction were unconstitutional due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. A hearing justice denied postconviction relief, concluding that Defendant made a knowing and intelligent plea at the time of his plea. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to provide the evidence required to support a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) the justice who conducted the postconviction relief hearing did not overlook or misconceive material evidence in arriving at her findings. View "Njie v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of several criminal counts, including burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary. The aggregate sentences for all of Defendant’s convictions totaled thirty-five years. Defendant subsequently moved to reduce his sentence pursuant to Rule 35 of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure, arguing, inter alia, that he accepted responsibility for his actions and that his sentence violated the Eighth Amendment. The hearing justice denied Defendant’s motion to reduce sentence. On appeal, Defendant argued that his violated the Sixth Amendment and the Eighth Amendment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the hearing justice was within his discretion to confirm Defendant’s punishment; (2) Defendant’s constitutional challenges were not cognizable in the context of a motion to correct an illegal sentence under Rule 35; and (3) even if Defendant could raise constitutional challenges under Rule 35, his arguments lacked merit. View "State v. Ciresi" on Justia Law

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In 1994, Applicant entered a plea of nolo contendere to the offense of maintaining a narcotics nuisance. In 2012, Applicant filed a pro se application seeking to vacate his nolo contendere plea. In his application Applicant argued that his plea was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary and that his counsel provided ineffective assistance. The hearing justice entered judgment for the State and dismissed the application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial justice did not err in finding that Applicant understood the nature and consequences of his plea; (2) the trial justice properly dismissed Applicant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; and (3) the efforts of postconviction counsel were adequate. View "Reyes v. State" on Justia Law

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This case involved a shooting that occurred in the City of Woonsocket, which left Ikey Wilson with severe injury to his stomach and required the amputation of his right leg. Defendant Christian Rosado appealed his conviction on two separate counts of assault with a dangerous weapon (firearm). Defendant maintained that the hearing justice erred in denying his motion for a mistrial based on what he perceived to have been the state’s discovery violation. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Rhode Island v. Rosado" on Justia Law

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Applicant Robert Dominick appealed the denial of his application for postconviction relief, arguing the trial court erred in finding that he failed to present newly discovered evidence that would have entitled him to a new trial. Applicant was convicted in 2009 for the assault and battery of a person over sixty years old. The victim testified that an altercation arose when she was mowing her lawn, and Applicant yelled at her to get off his lawn. Applicant shoved her against a granite marker pole located on her property, causing scrapes to her arm. The lawn mower was damaged as a result of the altercation. During the hearing and in his filings before the Superior Court, applicant relied on two items he described as "newly discovered": (1) the picture of the lawn mower, coupled with the information that Beltram had disposed of the lawn mower, and (2) an eyewitness' testimony. Applicant claimed that during the civil trial he learned for the first time that the victim had destroyed the lawn mower involved in their altercation but that she had kept a photograph of the lawn mower. He claimed that the photograph could have been used to impeach the victim's testimony at the criminal trial that the lawn mower had been damaged as a result of applicant’s conduct because the photograph did not depict any damage to the lawn. After considering the parties’ written and oral submissions and reviewing the record, the Rhode Island Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not err in finding Applicant failed to present new evidence, and affirmed in all respects. View "Dominick v. Rhode Island" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with eight counts of first-degree child molestation. Defendant filed a motion to suppress statements he made after his arrest and during his interrogations at the police department, claiming that the statements were coerced and not made voluntarily. The trial justice denied Defendant’s motion to suppress after a hearing. After a trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts on two of the eight counts of first-degree child molestation. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial justice erred by denying his motion to suppress statements he made to the police during his post-arrest interrogation. The Supreme Court remanded to the superior court for additional fact-finding and credibility determinations. On remand and after a hearing, the trial justice denied Defendant’s motion to suppress his confession. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, Defendant’s confession was voluntary and was not the product of coercion or impermissible conduct on the part of the interrogating detectives. View "State v. Bojang" on Justia Law