Pleau Case Raises Question Of State's Rights

Gov. Lincoln Chafee's decision to not turn over murder suspect Jason Pleau demonstrates larger controversy of federal jurisdiction.

In a case which brings up questions of jurisdiction and state rights, Gov. Lincoln Chafee murder suspect Jason Pleau to the federal government yesterday, stating that he could not expose a Rhode Island resident to the possibility of a death penalty prosecution.

Pleau was one of three suspects and robbery of David Main, which took place at Citizens Bank on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket in September of 2010. Main was shot to death at close range and robbed of  a $12,542 deposit he was bringing to the bank from the Shell gas station he managed.

Because accounts at all U.S. banks are insured by the federal government, bank robbery and the other crimes related to Main's murder fall under federal jurisdiction.

The federal government has not decided if it will seek the death penalty for Pleau, but the case would be considered eligible. Although Rhode Island does not have a death penalty, defendant can still receive the death penalty for a federal capital crime.

In the past, critics have claimed this an usurpation of states’ rights, as well as a potential violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which prohibits the government from imposing cruel and unusual punishment.  

Pleau is serving an 18-year sentence at an Adult Correctional Institutes for a separate case, and has not yet been arraigned on the federal charges of Hobbs Act conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce, Hobbs Act robbery affecting commerce, and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, causing the death of another. Chafee is able to deny the extradition request under the pretext of holding Pleau for charges in Rhode Island.

Jim Martin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Rhode Island, has said the case will still be prosecuted at the federal level.

Harold Ryan June 24, 2011 at 09:10 AM
Where in the United States Constitution does the federal government derive its authority to supersede Rhode Island's 10th amendment right to self-government by demanding that Rhode Island turned over the suspect to them? Specifically, which article and section addresses this?
cindy smith June 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM
what a slap in the face to the victim and his family.
STEPHEN WEBER June 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM
The Constitution's Supremacy Clause may dictate Federal law superseding state law .... at least I hope so!!!!!.... Once again this one term governor proves he stands for everything bad unless you're a cold blooded murderer or an illegal enemy invader or a pervert trying to destroy the sanctity of of marriage union as 1 man and 1 woman...
Yvette M Ayotte June 24, 2011 at 12:01 PM
What planet does this governor come from????
English first June 24, 2011 at 12:32 PM
With" good time" this murderer will be out in a few years here in Little Rhody.
Jay Dionne June 24, 2011 at 02:02 PM
The Governor is a dolt. I'd like to personally thank each and every brain-dead voter who put this idiot in office.
Steve June 24, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Jay, this is what happens when someone gets elected that can't even carry 40 % of the popular vote! Incredible...........
xmascrl June 24, 2011 at 02:57 PM
What a horrible ordeal for the victim's family to go through. First they are robbed of their loved one, next they are robbed of their justice. So sad...
Wu Sao June 24, 2011 at 04:51 PM
"Again - if you don't like the representation that you have at the local or state level, then vote them out - or better yet, run for office. Sitting at home and an anonymously taking pot-shots may make you feel better or engaged in the policitical process but it won't change a thing. Criticism is one thing...baseless cheap shots and personal attacks are another." ---- Sound familiar Jay Dionne?
Jay Dionne June 24, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Touche, Maurice Roger...I'm not anonymous nor am I unengaged in the policial process...
Wu Sao June 24, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Not questioning any comment that has been made in regards to any article. Just pointing out how emotional anyone can become over something they feel strongly about.
Steve June 24, 2011 at 05:51 PM
From the latest info. on this matter, it appears that Pleau has pleaded guilty to accept life without parole. This appears to be the reason that Gov. Gump hasn't turned him over to the feds.
Jay Dionne June 24, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Maybe the Governor should have confirmed that the state charges were still in effect before he stood up on his soapbox...AG just released a statement indicating the the state charges were dropped in May because the case (based on agreement between RI State AG and Feds) had moved to a federal prosecution tract...oooops.
STEPHEN WEBER June 24, 2011 at 06:46 PM
OUTSTANDING!!!! This governor has shown his true colors though as an enemy to the law abiding and decent people of Rhode Island.... Everything this governor stands for is WRONG!!!
Steve June 24, 2011 at 07:27 PM
After reading some of the latest news on this, I'm confused now. It looks like Gov. Goofey just got trumped by Kilmartin and this case is going to Federal court?
Harold Ryan June 25, 2011 at 11:05 AM
I am no fan of Lincoln Chafee but I do need to question the federal government and its never ending thirst for power over the states and people. So Mr. Weber which article and enumerated power are you referring to? This doesn't have to be a slap in the face to the victims and the families. If the federal government prosecutes the killer, will the families feel anymore vindicated? Those who would like to see this man put to death will not see it through the federal system or the state. You would have to transfer this man to Texas, they have an express lane to the death chamber.
Harold Ryan June 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM
If an individual were going to be sentenced for a crime where would you rather do your time in the state prison or a federal prison? I think, state prisons are very harsh and underfunded. Whereas federal prisons are well-funded and the inmates lead the good life. This is opinion not known fact. For those who would like to see the death penalty given in this case or in future cases there is a mechanism within the Rhode Island Constitution for changing this law. For those who would like to see the death penalty in this case start working with the Gen. assembly to change it.
STEPHEN WEBER June 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM
RE question @ Harold Ryan I'm no Constitutional expert, and I do not pretend to be , however I do believe and hope like Hell, that the Constitutions Supremacy clause dictates that Federal law , and thus violations of Federal supersede state laws and state jurisdictions and Authority very temporarily (I HOPE) held by this Governor... and in my opposing opinion to yours also . THIS IS A SLAP IN THE FACE !!! to the victim, his family and ALL people of Rhode Island ... ALL !!! deserve better and ALL have been betrayed by this Governor...


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