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NEW: Chafee Disappointed with Supreme Court Ruling

Monday, January 14, 2013


Governor Lincoln Chafee has responded to the Supreme Court’s decision today to decline a petition for writs of certiorari filed by Chafee and defendant Jason Wayne Pleau that would have given Rhode Island another chance to appeal a decision made last year by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the case against Pleau.

The Supreme Court decision means that Pleau will be tried at the federal level, where prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a 2010 crime in which he is accused of murdering a Lincoln man outside of a Woonsocket bank.
Pleau had already agreed to serve a life sentence without parole under state law and Chafee, an opponent of the death penalty, sought to keep him in state custody but lost in a key decision back in May when the First Circuit Court of Appeals decided, 3-2, to reject his argument that, under a federal law known as the Interstate Agreement on Detainers (IAD), he had the legal right to refuse to turn over Pleau.

“I am disappointed that the United States Supreme Court has decided not to review this important case,” Chafee said in a statement. “Rhode Island and 47 other states entered into the Interstate Agreement on Detainers in good faith. 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.”

Chafee said that he believes that, under the agreement, the federal government was “obligated to respect Rhode Island’s right … to refuse to transfer the 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,” Chafee said. ”As I have repeatedly said, my involvement in this case was not about Mr. Pleau personally, but rather about critical states’ rights issues.”


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