Court Recognizes Chafee's Right to Refuse Transfer of Pleau

1st Circuit Court agrees that Gov. Lincoln Chafee's does not have to hand Woonsocket murder suspect over to the federal government.

U.S. District Court judges agreed that Gov. Lincoln Chafee has the right to refuse the transfer of murder suspect Jason Pleau to the federal government in a case labeled "unprecedented" in today's decision.

Pleau, 33, was one of three suspects y of David Main, a Lincoln man and employee of Shell gas station, who was shot to death while attempting to make a deposit at Citizens Bank on Diamond Hill Road in Sept. of 2010.

In a case that state versus federal jurisdiction, Chafee of the prisoner in June, arguing that it would expose Pleau to the capital punishment, which is not allowed under Rhode Island state law.

"A transfer of Mr. Pleau to temporary federal custody would potentially expose him to the death penalty, a penalty consciously rejected by the State of Rhode Island, even for those guilty of the most heinous crimes," the governor explained.

The decision was based in part on the terms of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD,) through which the federal government requested the transfer. According to the ruling, states are allowed to refuse the transfer of prisoners to the federal government under IAD terms, but no state has ever done so.

Claire Richards, chief legal officer for the governor, explained: "The agreement treats the federal government as yet another state and clearly states that the governor has the right to say no, but they didn't like that."

"He was already going to plead guilty to life in prison without parole," Richards added, "so presumably the only reason to move him was the death penalty."

Judges in the 1st Circuit, a federal court trumped only by the U.S. Supreme Court, agreed.

"Pleau had, at this point, already indicated his agreement to plead guilty to the state charges and accept a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Therefore, the only additional punishment that a federal conviction might bring would appear to be authorization to kill Pleau. The present case thus presents a stark conflict between federal and state policy prerogatives on a matter of literally life-and-death significance," the decision states.

In a statement released tonight on the matter, Chafee emphasized his sympathy for the victim's family, but reiterated the fact that Rhode Island has long rejected capital punishment.  

"There is no question that Jason Wayne Pleau is a career criminal who deserves to be punished for his crimes. But as I have previously stated, my involvement in this case is not about Mr. Pleau as an individual, nor is it about the terrible ordeal of the Main family. And it is not about my personal feelings or opinions," Chafee said. "It is about maintaining and protecting the sovereignty and laws of the state I was elected to govern, and I am encouraged that the 1st Circuit has recognized that important role."

The federal government could request a petition for rehearing or elect to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Cases involving capital punishment are inevitably long, drawn-out processes with many rulings and many appeals," Chafee said. "While I am grateful for the 1st Circuit’s decision, I know that this may not be the last step."

Steve October 15, 2011 at 08:15 PM
Oh by the way Dave B., it's called the "Tea Party" movement, not the Teabaggers as you referenced in one of your earlier posts. If you want to go there, maybe the term "Libtards" comes to mind right?
RonW October 15, 2011 at 08:17 PM
In any other state there would of been a run off election. Getting 36% percent of the vote is not winning.
Emile Belisle October 15, 2011 at 08:37 PM
Steve: Unlike Mr. Bouchard I didn’t revert to name calling. Your first reply to me revels your true colors. Go ahead and talk your nonsense to each other, without us you’re only preaching to the chorus. You will hear from me no more on this article.
Steve October 15, 2011 at 08:58 PM
Thank you sir, when presented with facts, liberals like you typically run for the hills. Nice to know you didn't dissapoint..... And oh, what does this mean " the lynch mob"?? You don't revert to name calling? You sir are a fraud!
Erin B. October 16, 2011 at 02:06 PM
I agree with the sentiment that the governor has the right (and is fairly obligated, mind you) to challenge the Federal claim to Pleau. Do *I* like the ruling? No. In this case, I see the death penalty as a viable and proper punishment for a terrible crime if he's found guilty. However, Chafee is representing the stated opinion of Rhode Island in making this challenge. RI has, by vote, determined that capital punishment is not what we want here. If anyone thinks that (or anything) should change, start a petition. Run for office. Vote. That's what the system is for. As it stands, I begrudgingly recognize Chafee's right to present the challenge to the court even though I would have liked to see Pleau tried on the Federal level. I believe a lot of the ire here comes from Chafee's recent run-ins regarding State vs. Federal rights with compassion centers and illegal immigration. He's all over the place I feel like he's putting his foot down in all the wrong places. I can't wait for the next election


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