Providence County Superior Court
For Plaintiff: Alison DeCosta, Esq.
For Defendant: Katherine Godin, Esq.
Leroy Robinson (Appellant) brings this appeal from a decision of the Drug Court Magistrate (the Magistrate), denying his request for appointed counsel in this sexual offender registration case. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 8-2-39.2(j). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court affirms the decision of the Magistrate.
Facts and Travel
On February 10, 2006, a Providence County Superior Court jury found the Appellant guilty of two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault. A justice of the Superior Court sentenced Appellant to two concurrent sentences of twenty years imprisonment, with nine years to serve and the remainder suspended, with probation. (Judgment of Conviction and Commitment, May 23, 2006.) On March 12, 2010, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. See State v. Robinson, 989 A.2d 965 (R.I. 2010). The Appellant's sentences later were amended to reflect a reduction in the amount of years he was ordered to serve, with a concomitant increase in the remainder suspended, with probation. (Judgment of Conviction and Commitment, July 13, 2010). It is noteworthy, however, that the actual length of the sentences—two concurrent twenty-year sentences of imprisonment—remained unchanged. See id.
As a result of his conviction, Appellant is required to register as a sexual offender in accordance with chapter 37.1 of title 11, the Sexual Offender Registration and Community Notification Act (the Registration Act). On March 12, 2008, while his appeal was pending before the Supreme Court (see Robinson, 989 A.2d at 965), the Sex Offender Board of Review (Board) issued a decision classifying Appellant as a Level III risk to reoffend. See Risk Assessment Report at 1. On May 9, 2012, Appellant filed a request with this Court to review the Board's determination. See Appeal Request. He also requested the appointment of counsel. See id. Thereafter, on August 28, 2012, Attorney Katherine Godin (Attorney Godin) entered her appearance as court-appointed counsel on behalf of Appellant. See Entry of Appearance.
On December 3, 2012, the Magistrate conducted a hearing on Appellant's appeal from the Board's decision classifying him as a Level III risk to reoffend. See Tr., Dec. 3, 2012 (Tr. I.) At the commencement of the hearing, the Magistrate noted that counsel for Appellant had "filed an eleven-page memo, with ten exhibits attached, to the Court in support of [Appellant's] motion to lower his classification." Id. at 3. Attorney Godin also supplemented the record with two additional exhibits in open court. Id. at 4.
At the hearing, Appellant presented one witness, his mother, Pamela J. Nash, to testify on his behalf. See Tr. I at 4-10. The Appellant also testified at the hearing. Id. at 11-20. The State did not conduct any cross-examination or produce any witnesses. During her closing argument, Attorney Godin stated that in addition to the witness testimony, she also was "rely[ing] on the memo the Court has already noted that I submitted in this case as well as the exhibits attached to that, and the two I submitted today." Id. at 21. After reviewing the record, the Magistrate denied the appeal in a bench decision (Tr. at 1-15, Dec. 18, 2012 ((Tr. II)), and entered an order to that effect. (Order, Dec. 18, 2012.)
At the conclusion of the Magistrate's bench decision, Attorney Godin informed the Court that she intended to file a notice of appeal. See id. at 16. She stated:
"I'll also be requesting that he be allowed to proceed in forma pauperis and that he be allowed forthwith to provide an affidavit of indigency. I understand the Court believes that my client may not have the right to proceed as an indigent client with a court appointed counsel, and I will take the matter up with Presiding Justice Gibney." Id.
The Magistrate responded: "Because it's a civil proceeding, that determination can be made upstairs whether you're entitled to represent him, counsel, on ...