January 15, 2013

Throwing the Wrench Well Away from the Machinery of Death

It's not many stories I blog about for three years running, but since this one appears to be at an end, I figured I might as well wrap things up.

You may remember, back in 2011, when I wrote about the odd case of Jason Pleau, who is serving a sentence on a Rhode Island state charge that's set to expire in 2028. The federal government would like to prosecute Pleau as well, but with on charges that could bring the death penalty. The state of Rhode Island does not have the death penalty, but that wouldn't stop the federal government from securing a death verdict themselves.

As a result, the feds submitted a routine request under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act for Rhode Island to hand over Pleau so he could be prosecuted in federal court. Rhode Island's governor, Lincoln Chafee, mucked things up a bit by using a rarely (if ever) used clause of the Act to deny the request because the potential federal penalty (death) was harsher than any called for by state law.

The feds ran to a federal court get a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, which is another means to get someone in state custody into federal court. Litigation ensued about whether the feds could resort to such a backdoor method (over which the Rhode Island authorities had little control).

To the surprise of several (myself included), the First Circuit initially sided with Chafee, but in a later en banc proceeding held for the feds and ordered Pleau turned over. Chafee took the case to the Supreme Court, which yesterday denied his request to review the case (without comment or dissent, apparently).

So, in the end, the feds get their man. But will they get their death sentence? It will be interesting to see if they pursue it after all this effort and, if the do, whether a Rhode Island jury will give it to them. We'll see, I guess. It's up to the jurors of Rhode Island to have the final say.

No comments:

Post a Comment