The US Supreme Court has denied Gov. Lincoln Chafee's bid to appeal the court ruling placing accused murderer Jason Pleau in federal custody.
The decision was announced in a release this morning from United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha. "I am obviously pleased with the decision of the United States Supreme Court not to review the First Circuit’s entirely correct ruling requiring the State of Rhode Island to surrender custody of Mr. Pleau to the United States for trial in federal court. As we have been since September of 2010, we are prepared to move ahead with this case immediately and without delay,” Neronha said.
Scoutusblog.com also briefly reported the denial. The site notes the Supreme Court does not issue statements on its reasons for declining to take up a case.
"I am disappointed that the United States Supreme Court has decided not to review this important case," Chafee said, referencing the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, signed by 48 states, including Rhode Island.
"That Agreement authorizes Governors to refuse a prisoner transfer request when it would violate the custodial state’s public policy. I invoked the Agreement to block the transfer of Mr. Pleau to federal custody because it appeared that the sole purpose of that transfer was to subject Mr. Pleau to the death penalty – a penalty that Rhode Island has long rejected. The federal government was obligated to respect Rhode Island’s right, as a co-equal party to the Agreement, to refuse to transfer this prisoner. That it did not and that the federal courts did not enforce the express terms of the Agreement is cause for concern both for the future of the Agreement and for our federalism," Chaffee wrote.
In August, Chafee asked the Supreme Court to review a May court decision ordering the state to turn Pleau over to federal custody.
Pleau now faces the death penalty in federal court, unless a motion his lawyers filed last week is successful.
Pleau's attorneys have asked that the captial elements of the indictment be dismissed because they violate Pleau’s rights under the Fifth and Eighth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution and the rights guaranteed him by the Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA).
In June, the The US Attorney’s Office announced it would seek the death penalty against Pleau, charged with the murder of David Main during a night deposit robbery at Citizen's Bank in 2010.
"Specifically, the United States will seek a sentence of death for count three of the indictment against Pleau, which charges the defendant with possessing, using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence that caused the death of David Main, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and (j)," the US Attorney's office stated at the time.
Chafee thanked the National Governors Association, which represents the Governors of all 50 states, the Council of State Governments, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Cato Institute, the Independence Institute, the ACLU, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, various offices of the Federal Defender, the Rhode Island Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the National Association of Extradition Officials, and the Attorneys General of Ohio, New Mexico, Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, and Kansas for filing amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in support of Rhode Island’s position.
Chafee also thanked Patricia A. Millett and the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld for their work on the case on the state's behalf, for free.
"As I have repeatedly said, my involvement in this case was not about Mr. Pleau personally, but rather about critical states’ rights issues," Chafee wrote.