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Fed court rules against Pleau

May 8, 2012

PROVIDENCE — A federal appeals court ruled Monday that an inmate at the center of a legal tug-of-war between Gov. Lincoln Chafee and federal prosecutors may stand trial in federal court, where he faces a possible death penalty prosecution over a fatal robbery.
The 3-2 decision issued by the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston sided with federal prosecutors, saying the state prison would serve as “a refuge against federal charges” if Jason W. Pleau were allowed to remain in the custody of Rhode Island authorities.
The custody battle over the 34-year-old Pleau goes back to June 2011, when Chafee, an independent, refused a request to surrender him to federal authorities. Chafee said prosecutors want to try Pleau federally to make the death penalty a possible punishment for allegations that he fatally shot a gas station manager outside a Woonsocket bank in 2010.
Rhode Island doesn't have the death penalty.
“Were Pleau and Governor Chafee to prevail, Pleau could be permanently immune from federal prosecution, and the use of the efficient detainer system badly compromised,” wrote Circuit Judge Michael Boudin, who gave the majority opinion.
Federal prosecutors haven't said whether Pleau would face the death penalty if convicted of killing 49-year-old David Main. Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Peter F. Neronha said in a statement that his office is ready to move forward with the case.
Chafee issued a statement, calling the ruling a “close vote.”
“Given the divided panel, the considerable states' rights issues involved, and the fact that a human life could be at stake, we will carefully evaluate all of our options,” he said. An attorney for Pleau also said he is contemplating what to do next.
“We're obviously disappointed but not shocked by the ruling,” said attorney David P. Hoose.
Chafee is believed to be the first governor to refuse to surrender a state inmate under a federal law governing the transfer of prisoners among states and the U.S. government.
Chafee's lawyer, Claire Richards, argued before the appeals panel last month that the provision allowing governors to refuse to surrender inmates doesn't carve out exceptions in cases when federal authorities seek to take prisoners into custody. She said 47 states and the federal government are bound by the law, the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act.
Boudin wrote that it is improbable that Congress enacted that law to give governors the authority to keep prisoners out of the hands of federal authorities because they disagree with a punishment that inmates might face if convicted.
“One can hardly imagine Congress, whether in approving the IAD or at any other time, empowering a state governor to veto a federal court habeas writ — designed to bring a federally indicted prisoner to federal court for trial on federal charges--because the governor opposed the federal penalty that might be imposed if a conviction followed,” he wrote.
Judges Juan R. Torruella and O. Rogeriee Thompson dissented.
“The equities of the case, even if they weighed in favor of the United States (and they do not), cannot justify the majority's result because this court has no authority to ignore the express terms of the IAD,” Torruella wrote.
Pleau is serving an 18-year sentence in state prison for violating his probation in another case. One of his co-defendants pleaded guilty to robbery and other charges and is being sentenced in September; the other's case is pending.


Let Justice Be Served !!!!

May 9, 2012 by Jeffo46 (not verified), 3 years 16 weeks ago
Comment: 1273

Chaffee needs to wise up and let the feds to their job and take over with the prosecution of Jason Pleau. What he did was a federal offense period ! Chaffee goes to quote that a human life could be at stake ? Well what about the family of the man that Pleau fatally shot in cold blood ? What about the anguish and pain that they have to continue to go through on a daily basis because of Governor Gump's refusal to see justice served ? Chaffee needs to be thrown out of office as far as I'm concerned . He's a embarrassment and a joke to the state of Rhode Island and will be a one term governor, you can bet on that. The unions won't be around to help him come next election.

Cold blooded murderer

May 9, 2012 by rlucch72206 (not verified), 3 years 16 weeks ago
Comment: 1272

How can Gov. Chafee allow this , in a state that is in finanical trouble ? I want justice to be rendered and to have this guy ( Jason Pleau ) sitting there at the ACI is showing what is wrong with our State . He belongs in Federal Custody and to be tried in Federal Court . If he gets away with this our Country never mind our State will let crime get away with the punishment they do deserve . I am a close friend of David Main and he was my boss at Eastdside Shell on Diamond Hill Rd . The shock that this caused and the loss of a person with a big heart didn't deserve to be murdered and for the 3 who have been arrested in this case should not be allowed to be put in prision for the rest of there lives . I hope that our Govenor will give up this person to the feds . So far I see that you are hurting our State and you should be ashame of calling yourself our Govenor of the State of Rhode Island . I really believe there are more important things as governor that you should be doing to get our State back to a State that is proud to call home . I am one voice and I hope you do understand that i am voicing my oppinion .

How sweet it is.........

May 8, 2012 by Marcel (not verified), 3 years 16 weeks ago
Comment: 1265

Unfortunately Rhode Island’s governor and a few lawyers are struggling to keep a bank robber from being prosecuted by a federal court system. This is throwing good money after bad. Like the State can afford it.
What's really happening is that Mr. Pleau is hoping for the ACI to become his safe haven, allowing him the opportunity to live a long healthy life in prison. Not a great place but he'll be able to play pool, rub elbows with others and send Christmas cards to relatives.
Well two out of three Federal Appeals Court judges thought differently. Now the federal government can properly prosecute this individual. Should he get the death penalty, so be it. Mr. Pleau does understand that sometimes another individual can determine the day one dies as he did with killing Mr. Mann. In this case it may be a group of jurors who'll decide.
Now let's hope the governor stops spending the State's scarce money on this matter.

An Eye for an Eye

May 8, 2012 by myky1978 (not verified), 3 years 16 weeks ago
Comment: 1264

Does Governor Chafee really have the nerve to say "a human life could be at stake"?? What about the man Jason Pleau killed in cold blood? Something is seriously wrong with Governor Chafee I think he was dropped on his head at birth. And someone please tell me that it is NOT our tax dollars being used in trying to keep this MURDERER from getting whats rightfully coming to him??

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