Court: Chafee Must Turn Pleau Over To Federal Custody

First Circuit Court of Appeals rules against Governor in state's rights contest.


The U.S First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has ruled Gov. Lincoln Chafee must turn accused murderer Jason Pleau over to federal authorities. 

Pleau, who has been the subject of a custody struggle between federal authorities and Chafee, could face the death penalty in federal court. In state court, Pleau would face a maximum sentence of life in prison. The governor has refused to turn Pleau over to federal authorities for the last 10 months, invoking Rhode Island's long-standing objection to the death penalty and the state's sovereignty. 

This afternoon, the Governor's office released a brief statement on the decision: "I am in the process of reviewing the en banc opinion issued today. As predicted, this was a close vote. Given the divided panel, the considerable states’ rights issues involved, and the fact that a human life could be at stake, we will carefully evaluate all of our options," Chafee wrote.

US Attorney Peter F. Neronha's office also issued a brief statement: “Today’s ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirms our position from the outset, that the Governor does not have the right to bar a defendant who is properly charged by the federal government from appearing in federal court to face those charges. This office, as we have been from the outset, is prepared to move forward with the prosecution of Mr. Pleau.”

Pleau is charged with murdering David Main, 49, who was robbed and fatally shot on his way into a Citizen’s Bank branch on Diamond Hill Road, in September 2010. Main was the manager of a Shell gas station and was on his way to make a deposit from that business.

la_mouffette May 08, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Did you read all of my post, John? Or did you read the first sentence, and assumed I was 100% glad Chafee tried to do this? I'm against the death penalty on principle, but believe me, I see the full picture. You didn't mention that, if Chafee won this case, it might promote RI as the only state in the union where you can shoot someone on federally insured bank property and NOT face the death penalty. That's a bit scary.
John May 08, 2012 at 06:04 PM
La_, I wasn't directing, agreeing or disagreeing with you in any way, I respect your opinion. The "you" was generalized at anyone reading, I was questioning how much money of "ours" in this supposedly cash strapped state did the gov. think was ok to spend a this "bad person" (due to censorship) while there are so many trickle down affects in cities and towns due to the state withholding money that rightfully should have been distributed to them. I say......... fry him btw.
Russell Archambault May 08, 2012 at 07:29 PM
gentelman; good debate,interesting views, I sometimes watch lockup on friday nights. It is beyond my thoughts how well these prisoners are treated. They are allowed to play cards, hang around, shoot there mouths off all day and all night.actually do nothing but use the system.I could go on and on.Here is my point. Nomatter what view on hard working people,like teachers,police ,firemen, city,state workers, who we all attack for whatever reason for pensions, not working enough,paid too much,and so forth. Nobody ever attacks prisoners for doing nothing all day long, free food, free housing, free water, free heat, free electric, free tv. free library,dont even need a library card.and best of all free medical coverage.oh yea and free lawyers. I dont want to minimize the hard ache, or the hard ship, and the loneliness they must feel and the sorrow they must feel (getting caught). I feel that we are criticizing our great governor, trying his best to protect one of his citizens. You are all jealous!!!
Bill Santagata May 09, 2012 at 09:42 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with Footnote 18 of the dissent, which reads: "We further digress to interject that the crimes Pleau is alleged to have committed -- armed robbery and murder of a private citizen on the way to making a deposit in the bank -- are quintessential state crimes, and betray on their face no hint of any uniquely federal interest. See United States v. Jiménez-Torres, 435 F.3d 3, 13-15 (1st Cir. 2006) (Torruella, J., concurring) (objecting to the unwarranted extension of federal criminal jurisdiction over traditionally state crimes). In the present case, extending federal jurisdiction over a crime with at most, de minimis impact on interstate commerce, is stretching that concept beyond the bounds of Congress's constitutional power. Cf. United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995). Moreover, given that Pleau has already agreed to plead guilty to state crimes and to a life sentence without possibility of parole, it is frankly unclear what it is that the federal government hopes to gain by its overkill. This is particularly manifest in light of the truly extraordinary costs that will have to be invested by the federal government if it continues to pursue this capital litigation, something that in these times of economic restraint seems unduly wasteful of limited resources." What is most puzzling to me is why the federal government is so intent on prosecuting him under federal law in the first place?
Tommy Tutone May 09, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Enjoy the entertainment provided by The Powers that Be,meanwhile,prepare to dig deep.


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