Kent County Superior Court
For Plaintiff: Meg McDonough, Esq.
For Defendant: Jason P. Knight, Esq.
Before the Court is Defendant Kathleen Thompson's motion for a new trial. A jury found Defendant guilty of violating a no-contact order in place with respect to Michael O'Sullivan in violation of G.L. 1956 §§ 12-29-4 and 12-29-5. Defendant filed a motion for a new trial contending the verdict is contrary to the clear weight of the evidence.
The facts proved at trial may be summarized as follows:
It is alleged that Defendant violated an outstanding no-contact order when she came to the front door of her former husband's home on or about October 5, 2004. The no-contact order in place that day was issued by the District Court on July 19, 2004 and prohibited the Defendant from having any contact with her former husband (Michael O'Sullivan). Because Defendant had previously been convicted twice for prior violations of no-contact orders, the State prosecuted this violation as the third offense, a felony under § 12-29-5c(ii). The parties stipulated to the prior convictions, and therefore, that aspect of the charge was deemed admitted and was not considered by the jury. There was no witness to the events of that day, and the State relied heavily on the testimony of Michael O'Sullivan.
Standard of Review
It is textbook law that when considering a motion for new trial, the Court acts as the hypothetical thirteenth juror and exercises independent judgment as to the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be given to any evidence. "If, after conducting this independent review, the trial justice agrees with the jury's verdict or if the evidence is such that reasonable minds could differ as to the outcome, the motion for a new trial should be denied." State v. Kelly, 20 A.3d 655, 659 (R.I. 2011). See also State v. Gomez, 848 A.2d 221, 234 (R.I. 2004). "If, however, 'the trial justice finds that the state has failed to sustain its burden of proof, a new trial must be ordered."' Id. (quoting State v. Clark, 603 A.2d 1094, 1096 (R.I. 1992)).
Defendant contends in her motion that the jury's verdict is contrary to the clear ...