Justia Rhode Island Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the superior court finding Defendant to be in violation of the terms of his probation and sentencing him to serve portions of previously imposed suspended sentences, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error.On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that he violated his probation on the basis that he failed to keep the peace and be of good behavior. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice's findings were more than adequate to support a conclusion that Defendant violated his probation. View "State v. Kenner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the family court terminating Father's parental rights to his two children pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 15-7-7(a)(3), holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.On appeal, Father argued that a finding of unfitness was at odds with the evidence presented and that the Department of Children, Youth and Families did not make reasonable efforts toward reunification. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) legally competent evidence existed to support the trial justice's findings as to parental unfitness; (2) the trial justice's conclusion on the issue of reasonable efforts to reunify was not clearly erroneous; and (3) there was no error either in the permanency hearing, as conducted by the trial justice, or in the subsequent decision. View "In re Jae'La G." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Energy Facility Siting Board (the board or EFSB) concerning the relocation of power lines across the Providence and Seekonk Rivers, holding that Petitioners had standing and that review of the Board's decisions was timely.Petitioners in this case were the City of Providence, Friends of India Point Park, The Hilton Garden Inn, and The R.I. Seafood Festival. Petitioners sought review of a January 17, 2018 order in which the Board stated that the "bridge alignment north" and the "underground alignment" were not feasible but approved the "bridge alignment south." Respondents - EFSB, the City of East Providence, and National Grid - sought review of the order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) all Petitioners except for Hilton lacked standing in this matter; and (2) while the Board's order was deficient, the next preferred alignment was the bridge alignment south, and therefore, the order of the Board is upheld. View "In re Narragansett Electric Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing several counts of the criminal information against Defendants alleging accessing a computer system for fraudulent purposes and conspiracy, holding that the counts were properly dismissed.Defendant were charged with violations of R.I. Gen. Laws 11-52-2 and conspiracy. The trial judge granted Defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of probable cause, concluding that Defendants' conduct did not fall within the ambit of section 11-52-2, and therefore, Defendants could not be charged with conspiracy to violate section 11-52-2. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err in granting the motions to dismiss. View "State v. Jilling" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court vacated the decrees of the family court denying the Department of Children, Youth, and Families' (DCYF) petition to terminate the parental rights of Parents to their child, holding that the trial justice overlooked and misconceived material evidence of parental unfitness in this case.On remand, after finding the facts by clear and convincing evidence, the trial justice concluded that DCYF had failed to prove that it had made reasonable efforts to reunify Parents with their child. The Supreme Court vacated the decision below, holding (1) the record demonstrated that DCYF made reasonable efforts to reunify Parents with their child, and the trial justice was clearly wrong to conclude otherwise; and (2) contrary to the trial justice's conclusion, DCYF proved by clear and convincing evidence the statutory requirements supporting the termination of Parents' parental rights to their child. View "In re Nolan V-S" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the family court terminating Mother's parental rights to her son, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.After a trial, the trial justice concluded that the State had proven by clear and convincing evidence that Mother was unfit to parent her son and that it was in the child's best interest that Mother's parental rights be terminated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial justice did not err (1) in finding that the child had been placed with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families for at least twelve months and that there was not a substantial probability that the child could return to Mother’s care within a reasonable period of time; and (2) in finding that it was in the child's best interests to terminate Mother's parental rights. View "In re Donnell R-H" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court ruling that Defendant did not owe a duty of care to eighteen-year-old Plaintiff at the time of an accident in a utility substation, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff was a trespasser at the substation when an accident occurred, resulting in the amputation of her left hand and a two-month hospital stay. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that Defendant, the property owner, owed a duty of care to maintain its substation in a reasonably safe condition and that, as a direct and proximate result of Defendant's negligence, Plaintiff was injured. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that no duty flowing to Plaintiff from Defendant ever arose under the circumstances of this case. View "Borgo v. Narragansett Electric Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the superior court foreclosing Respondent's rights of redemption in property purchased by Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation (RIHMFC) through exercise of its right of first refusal, holding that there was no error.After it purchased the property at issue RIHMFC filed a petition to foreclose any existing rights of redemption in the property. RIHMFC was later granted entry of default on the basis that Respondent had not defended against the citation issued to her. Thereafter, an order entered establishing the redemption amount and terms. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent's arguments on appeal were unavailing. View "R.I. Housing & Mortgage Finance Corp. v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated in part the judgment of the superior court reversing the decision of the Board to revoke Plaintiff's pension, ordering the permanent reinstatement of the pension, and declaring the pension revocation ordinance of the Town of Narragansett to be unconstitutionally vague, holding that the Board failed to make findings of fact or conclusions of law to support its decision.Plaintiff was a police officer with the Narragansett Police Department for twenty-eight years prior to his retirement. After Plaintiff pled guilty to transferring obscene matter to a person under the age of sixteen years the Board voted to revoke his pension under the pension revocation ordinance. Plaintiff and his wife sued. The trial justice concluded that the Board had violated Plaintiffs' due process rights in several respects and erred in declaring the pension revocation ordinance to be unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment in part and remanded the case, holding that the trial court failed to make competent factual findings on which to base an as-applied analysis of the constitutionality of the pension revocation ordinance. View "Riley v. Narragansett Pension Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting a motion to dismiss filed by Defendant and dismissed this complaint alleging, among other things, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed.In 2000, Plaintiff and Defendant entered into a lease agreement whereby Plaintiff rented space from Defendant. In 2011, the parties entered into a termination of lease and release agreement providing Plaintiff with a buyout. Plaintiff later brought this action. Defendant want moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Plaintiff released all claims against Defendant in a release. The hearing justice granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice did not err in dismissing Plaintiff's claims of breach of fiduciary duty and breaches of contract and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. View "EDC Investment, LLC v. UTGR, Inc." on Justia Law