Rhode Island Supreme Court update – June 28

The Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an opinion and an order today.

  • Supreme Court opinion in David Higham v. State of Rhode Island, No. 2011-87, postconviction relief, with Justice Flaherty writing the unanimous opinion of the Court.  The defendant raised three issues on appeal: (1) right to counsel at his second postconviction-relief hearing, (2) error over refusal to review the denial of parole in the context of a postconviction-relief proceeding, and (3) error over finding of res judicata relative to allegations of “actual innocence” and “jury taint.”  The Court considered each of the three claims and affirmed the ruling of the Superior Court.  The full opinion is here.
  •   Supreme Court order in State of Rhode Island v. Jose Tapia, No. 2010-338, sentencing appeal.  The defendant timely filed an appeal from a Superior Court order denying his motion to correct an illegal sentence and he argues error in that (1) the arson charge of which he was convicted should have been merged with his felony murder convictions; and (2) as such, double jeopardy. The Court affirmed the Superior Court’s order noting that the “defendant’s motion is not appropriate under Rule 35” and “[f]urthermore, because the crime of arson in the first degree carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment, the sentence imposed in the instant case— viz., twenty years at the Adult Correctional Institutions—was not an illegal sentence in the context of Rule 35.”  The full order is here.
Make sure to follow the Rhode Island courts on Twitter here.
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