Category Archives: Uncategorized

1st Circuit rules in favor of gay marriage in Puerto Rico case

From Lawyer Herald:

In a ruling that has both civil, as well as geo-political undertones, the US First Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in Puerto Rico.

The US Appeals Court declared the District Court’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional, even throwing the judge off the case in an extraordinary step to dramatize its indignation over the decision, reported BuzzFeedNews. In an unsigned opinion the court strongly chastised the action of US District Court Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez and ordered that the case “be assigned randomly by the clerk to a different judge to enter judgment in favor of the Petitioners promptly.”

First Circuit Judges Juan Torruella, Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson, and William Joseph Kayatta Jr. heard the appellate action but the opinion was issued “per curiam,” meaning, “by the court” – as such, it does not have to be signed by any particular judge or judges.

In October 2014 Perez-Gimenez had ruled in favor of the ban but the same appeals court, the First District, returned the case to his bench after the US Supreme Court struck down gay marriage bans nationwide in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodge. Perez-Gimenez was ordered to reconsider the matter in light of Obergefell with the appeals court informing him they agreed with the appellants that the ban was unconstitutional. Notwithstanding the order Perez-Gimenez ruled in favor of the ban for the second time, arguing that the US Supreme Court ruling does not apply to Puerto Rico which is a territory and not a state.

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Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to Recognize National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with Victims’ Grove Ceremony

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin will join U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections A.T. Wall, Providence Police Commissioner Steven Pare, Providence Police Colonel Hugh Clements, Rhode Island Division of Sheriffs Chief David DeCesare, and others on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, at the annual Victims’ Grove Ceremony to honor individuals and organizations committed to providing support and resources for victims.

“For victims of crime, the effects may last long after the actual incident, and the process of rebuilding can be long. As this year’s theme indicates, serving victims involves building trust. The compassion and dedication of the individuals we honor today has given hope to countless victims of crime, and I am humbled to recognize their contributions,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin.

The program will begin with the Providence Police Department Honor Guard presenting the colors followed by the National Anthem sung by Kim Maciel, an advocate at Day One.

Following a short speaking program and presentation to the honorees, guests will lay a wreath in memory of all victims of crimes.

When:             12:30 p.m. – Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Where:           Memorial Park – South Main Street, Providence

April 10 – April 16, 2016 is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor victims and advocates of victims’ rights. This year’s theme – Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. – underscores the importance of early intervention and victim services in establishing trust with victims, which in turn begins to restore their hope for healing and recovery.

The 2016 honorees are:

Sheriff Edward Cooper and Angel Cooper

On September 1, 2015, Deputy Sheriff Edward Cooper, who was off-duty, arrested David Allison, 34, just after he had allegedly committed a homicide and violently attacked two other women, critically injuring both.  Deputy Cooper performed admirably and heroically in confronting this suspect, who had already allegedly murdered a woman and was pursuing another who had fled the residence.  Had Deputy Cooper not intervened in the situation, it is conceivable that the second woman, who had sustained serious stab wounds, would have been murdered as well.  Deputy Cooper displayed tremendous professionalism, courage, and restraint and is being commended for saving the lives of two women and that of the suspect as well.

As Deputy Cooper was outside his home apprehending the suspect, his wife Angel alerted Providence Police to the situation.  She provided important information that led to their swift arrival on scene and the arrest of the suspect.  Her actions ensured that all responding officers were aware of the situation and of her husband’s presence, which preserved the safety of all involved.

Providence Police Detective Koren Garcia

Detective Garcia has over 15 years in law enforcement, with two years’ experience as a detective in the Providence Police Department’s Investigative Bureau. As a detective, her focus has been on investigating sex crimes and human trafficking, and working closely with social services to help guide, influence, and empower victims to change their lives.

She is a professional who truly understands the victims’ perspective and provides services which reflect best practices in response to these victims and their interaction with law enforcement and justice.  She works extremely well in partnership with victim service organizations, going above and beyond to both secure justice for victims and to ensure the best efforts are made for follow up services, at the same time ensuring effective prosecution of the offender.  Detective Garcia understands the need for a holistic approach, and the importance of collaboration and partnership.

Rebekah Snyder, Volunteer Helpline Advocate with Day One

Rebekah Snyder is currently a graduate student at Roger Williams University, working towards a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology.  Since joining the team at Day One in 2014 as an intern, Rebekah has gone above and beyond as an advocate on Day One’s 24-hour HelpLine offering confidential support, information, and advocacy services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. During the past year she has exceeded the expectations of the intern and volunteer responsibilities to manage the HelpLine as the interim Advocacy Coordinator during the applicant search.

Working in partnership with local colleges and universities, Rebekah has also created the RI Campus Sexual Assault Guide for college survivors of sexual assault, which is the only guide of its kind in the state.  This guide will improve support and treatment options for victims throughout the state.  Furthermore, Rebekah is an active member of the Statewide Sexual Assault Task Force and works with the Roger Williams Student Conduct and Community Standards Program.

Alliance Security Company

In 2013, Alliance Security, a Rhode Island-based home security company, began its partnership with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence and launched the “Friends of RICADV” program the following year.  Through the “Friends of RICADV” program, Alliance Security provides victims and survivors of domestic violence with free home alarm systems, installing them at no cost and providing free monitoring for one year.  So far, the company has installed nearly 50 alarm systems in survivors’ homes, as well as in the Coalition’s member agency shelters and transitional housing units.  In 2015, the partnership was named one of the nation’s “Promising Practices” by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

 In addition to the honorees, two individuals will be recognized for their past commitments to assisting victims of crimes:

  • Denise Alves, formerly with MADD-RI
  • Maryann Osediacz, former victim advocate with the Juvenile Prosecution Unit at the Office of Attorney General Family Court Unit.

Business Owners & Landlords Responsibilities Regarding Snow & Ice

During snowy weeks such as we have had in Rhode Island this week, it is always important for business owners and landlords to review their legal responsibilities regarding snow and ice on their property.

Courts in Rhode Island follow the “Connecticut Rule” regarding the duty of a landlord or a business owner to clear snow accumulation and treat surfaces impacted by a storm. See Benaski v. Weinberg , 899 A.2d 499, 502 (R.I. 2006).

However, the duty does not kick in until a “reasonable time” after the storm has ended. In other words, you don’t have to “catch… the flakes before they hit the ground.”  Berardis v. Louangxay, 969 A.2d 1288, 1293 (R.I. 2009).

This “Rule” only encompasses one legal duty recognized in Rhode Island common law.  However, a business owner or a landlord might have duties arising from other sources such as a contract, a lease or, such as in the City of Providence, an ordinance requiring clearance of sidewalks within the first 8 hours of daylight after the end of any snowfall (a much discussed topic at the GCPVD blog).

If one fails to abide by legally recognized duties, they could be held liable for any injuries sustained on the property.

Clear snow.  Treat the surface.  And stay safe!

If you have any questions, contact Rhode Island attorney Matthew Jerzyk.

North Carolina joins Rhode Island in supporting young undocumented immigrants

According to Governing magazine, North Carolina is the latest state to offer drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Thousands of young illegal immigrants in North Carolina may obtain government-issued photo IDs and driver licenses because of a change in policy Feb. 14 by the state transportation secretary.  North Carolina is the newest state to grant driver’s licenses to young immigrants who meet certain qualifications related to age, education, non-criminal status and military service under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The state Department of Motor Vehicles will issue licenses starting on March 25, officials said.

The state of Rhode Island has already granted in-state tuition for young undocumented immigrants through action by the Board of Governors for Higher Education.

 

 

North Providence Councilmen Burchfield, Douglas & Zambarano Arrested and Arraigned

Three North Providence town councilmen, including the President of the Town Council, were arrested by federal agents today on criminal complaints charging them with extortion and accepting a bribe. It is alleged the councilmen accepted a $25,000 bribe in return for favorable votes on a zoning change for a retail development project. U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha announced the arrests of Council President Joseph S. Birchfield, and Town Councilmen Raymond L. Douglas III and John A. Zambarano.

To be clear, a complaint is merely an allegation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Birchfield, 42, Douglas, 42, and Zambarano, 47, all residents of North Providence, were arrested earlier today by FBI agents. Each made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court before Magistrate Judge David L. Martin, who released the defendants on $50,000 unsecured bond. Extortion is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Bribery is punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

According to affidavits filed with the U.S. District Court, the three councilmen voted in favor of amending the Town’s Comprehensive Plan to re-zone a six-acre parcel of land from Commercial Professional and Residential General to Commercial General use in exchange for a $25,000 cash payment from the developer. The developer sought a zoning change to allow for the construction of a supermarket on Plympton Street near Mineral Spring Avenue.

In late summer 2008, the developer began discussions with the Town of North Providence to develop the land. The supermarket project was first presented to the Town Council in early October 2008. The matter came before the council on several occasions before a vote to approve the zoning change occurred on February 10, 2009. The vote to approve the project was 7-0.

The defendants held several meetings and discussions planning their actions and to affect payment of the bribe money. The bribe was delivered by the developer’s attorney to Zambarano. Disbursement of the bribe money was completed the day after the council’s February 10th vote.

The matter is being investigated by the FBI, with the assistance of Rhode Island State Police, Providence Police, DEA, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Terrence P. Donnelley.

New Websites for RI Federal Court & Probation Office

Both the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island and the U.S. Probation Office for the District of Rhode Island unveiled new websites today:

Noah Kilroy Goes from Law Breaker to Law Student

OpenDoors Board Member Noah Kilroy tells his tremendous story of “Law Breaker to Law Student” to the Newport Daily News.

Noah Kilroy was sitting in a prison cell for each of his birthdays between the ages of 19 and 23.  Now, as a recent graduate of Salve Regina University, he will enter law school in September with high aspirations of becoming a public interest lawyer.

Between 1998 and 2003, he served first a six-month sentence at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston for delivery of cocaine, followed by a two-year sentence at the ACI for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.  Finally, he served a two-year sentence in a Florida prison for trafficking in cocaine.

Kilroy grew up in Newport, attending Carey School, Thompson Middle School and Rogers High School.  Abandoned by his biological mother, he was a foster child before white parents in the Fifth Ward adopted him and his siblings.  He dropped out of Rogers after his junior year to be on his own.

Working part time as a cook at Newport Creamery for $7 an hour was a “struggle,” and he wasn’t making enough money to pay even the rent, he said.

“I moved to Woonsocket where drugs were rampant,” he said.  “My girldfriend’s mother was into drugs.  I asked her to introduce me to her dealer and I started selling small amounts on the street.”

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