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Jones v. State

Superior Court of Rhode Island

July 7, 2015

DAYMON B. JONES, Petitioner,
v.
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND, Respondent.

Providence County Superior Court (P2/2013-169)

For Plaintiff Daymon B. Jones, pro se.

For Defendant: Alison DeCosta, Esq.

DECISION

LANPHEAR, J.

This matter is before the Court pursuant to Daymon B. Jones' (Petitioner or Mr. Jones) "Motion to Vacate Plea Agreement, " which, according to Petitioner's correspondence, is intended to serve as his "post-conviction relief (PCR) application" following the submission of a plea of nolo contendere for sexual offenses committed in 2011. Petitioner contends that an inherent conflict of interest within the Office of the Public Defender renders the plea agreement resolving State v. Daymon Jones, Case No. P2/2013-0169A, entered September 3, 2013, constitutionally impermissible under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and requests this Court to vacate the plea agreement and renew plea negotiations. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 §§ 10-9.1-1, et seq.

I

Facts & Travel

This case arises out of a series of interactions between the Petitioner and the Office of the Public Defender beginning with Petitioner's first application for post-conviction relief, PM-2007-0344, filed with this Court on or about November 6, 2007. In that matter, currently on appeal before our Supreme Court, Petitioner alleges that the Office of the Public Defender provided ineffective assistance during plea negotiations stemming from a 2003 sexual assault charge.

Since filing his first post-conviction relief application, Petitioner has been represented by court-appointed counsel on a number of occasions. The Office of the Public Defender provided free legal services to Petitioner in at least three matters implicated here: P2/2013-0619A, P2/2011-0273A, and N2/2013-0215A. In each case, the Public Defender negotiated plea agreements in return for suspended sentences; and, in each case, the sentencing Court found that Mr. Jones entered his pleas knowingly, willingly, and voluntarily. After Mr. Jones' plea in P2/2013-0169A, Mr. Jones was classified as a level II sex offender and required to comply with certain reporting conditions beginning in September 2013. In March 2014, Mr. Jones was found in violation of the terms of his sentence for failure to register his residence. The suspension was lifted, and Petitioner became incarcerated in state facilities.

Now, Mr. Jones applies to this Court for post-conviction relief under the theory that any representation rendered to the Petitioner by the Office of the Public Defender after 2007 was inherently tainted by a conflict of interest stemming from his initial allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel. Beginning in March 2014, Petitioner sent letters to this Court, including a document entitled "Motion to Vacate" and "Motion to Dismiss Violation Hearing." The document cited no authority to support his inherent conflict claim. These strongly worded "motions" challenged Petitioner's incarceration and requested a hearing before a justice of the Superior Court. A status hearing was held before Justice Vogel on May 7, 2015, during which Petitioner discussed his legal objectives with the Court. Following the hearing, Petitioner filed a document entitled "Motion to Vacate Plea Agreement" on April 15, 2015. This time, Petitioner cited § 10-9.1-1, Rhode Island's post-conviction relief statute, as grounds for his motion.

Representing himself, Petitioner has clarified that the motion filed under the title "Motion to Vacate Plea Agreement" should be treated by this Court as a "Motion for Post-Conviction Relief, " and is intended to supersede all other motions. He has written:

"[t]he 'Motion to Vacate Plea Agreement' serves as my post-conviction (PCR) application. This motion supersedes the Magistrate McBurney denile [sic] of the 'Motion To Vacate' and 'Motion to Dismiss Violation Hearing' motions I sought to have reviewed by a full justice. This is not a difficult matter and should not be made to be." (Pet'r's Letter, May 10, 2015.)

He further clarified:

"[p]rior to my post-conviction, I filed a 'Motion to Vacate' and 'Motion to Dismiss Violation Hearing' which I explained to Justice Vogel that I no longer have interest in pursuing. Because of one of [my] letters to Presiding Justice Gibney, I was before Justice Vogel to explain that in which I seek. She understood my only ...

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