Rhode Island Public Defender

Our mission is to provide high quality representation to our clients, fulfilling the governmental obligation of effective assistance of counsel, fundamental fairness and due process. Our goal is to provide client-centered advice, holistic representation and zealous advocacy. Our commitment is to treat our clients with dignity, compassion and fairness.
Mary S. McElroy, Public Defender
Eyewitness Identification Taskforce

Current Legislation

House Bill 5366 - Electronic Recording of Custodial Interrogations – Requires that custodial interrogations in capital cases be electronically recorded. Generous exceptions respond to concerns of the law enforcement community. Identical to previous years’ legislation; #2010-S-2228 and #2010-H-7380; #2009-S-212, Sub A, and #2009-H-5134, Sub A. In 2009 and 2010 this legislation passed both the Senate and House but on both occasions was vetoed by Governor Carcieri.

Senate Bill 0218 and House Bill 5090 - Identification Procedures – This legislation is the result of the extraordinary work done by the TASK FORCE TO IDENTIFY & RECOMMEND POLICIES & PROCEDURES TO IMPROVE THE ACCURACY OF EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION: RIGL §12-1-16, as the result of legislation enacted unanimously by the General Assembly in 2010, #2010-S-2315 and #2010-H-7570. This Task Force, made up of a diverse group of criminal justice stakeholders (including the Attorney General, Public Defender, Rhode Island State Police, Municipal Police Training Academy, and Rhode Island Police Chief’s Association) was legislatively empowered to identify and recommend policies and procedures to improve lineup procedures during criminal investigations. I believe that this report, submitted to you covered by a letter dated December 27, 2010, is the best of its kind in the country and more importantly, is already having a positive impact in our state. Indeed, it is my pleasure to report that a spirit of collaboration and cooperation was present throughout the work of the Task Force as evidenced by the fact that there was complete unanimity in the eleven (11) recommendations made in the report including that R.I.G.L. §12-1-16 be amended during the 2011 session of the General Assembly to extend the life of the Task Force so that it may continue its important work in this area.

House Bill 5099 - Amendments to Statutes Relating to Larceny and Other Unlawful Conversion Offenses Based On the Value of What Is Converted - Several Rhode Island statutes codifying larceny and other unlawful conversion offenses distinguish between felonies and misdemeanors based upon the value of what is converted. This distinction dictates not only the punishment received but whether a criminal charge proceeds to Superior (felony) or District (misdemeanor) Court. A review of Rhode Island statutory history reflects that this distinction based on value has been in place for many years. In the case of fraudulent checks since 1995; in the case of larceny, receiving stolen goods, and obtaining money under false pretenses much longer. If enacted the legislation would have the following benefits including more efficient allocation of limited judicial resources; less serious misdemeanor cases proceed to District Court where they are usually resolved (as required by court order) no more than ninety (90) days from the time of initial arraignment. Superior Court felony cases, given their severity and complexity, generally take much longer to resolve, either by way of trial or plea bargain speeding restitution to victims of crime; and crime and punishment based on the value of what is taken should take into account inflation and current worth. Similar legislation was introduced during the 2010 legislative session in the form of #2010-S-2317. and #2010-H-7925. The Senate version passed both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate.

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