County Superior Court
Plaintiff: John F. Cicilline, Esq.
Defendant: Jeanine P. McConaghy, Esq.
matter came to be heard on September 22, 2015 and March 18,
2016 before, the Superior Court, Procaccini, J., on Charles
Adrian's Application for Post-Conviction Relief pursuant
to G.L. 1956 § 10-9.1-8.
Adrian (Petitioner or Mr. Adrian) was charged with one count
of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance in violation
of G.L. 1956 § 21-28-4.01(A)(2)(a) for delivering heroin
to Paul Sylvia on or about September 27, 2002 in Cranston,
Rhode Island. On June 4, 2003, Mr. Adrian entered a plea of
nolo contendere, ultimately receiving a five-year
suspended sentence. Mr. Adrian was represented by Attorney
Emili Vaziri (Attorney Vaziri) throughout the pre-trial
process and the plea colloquy.
March 31, 2014, Mr. Adrian filed the present application for
post-conviction relief (the Application) pursuant to §
10-9.1-8, essentially alleging that his plea colloquy failed
to satisfy the requirements of Rule 11 of the Superior Court
Rules of Criminal Procedure. First, Mr. Adrian argues that he
did not actually enter a plea of nolo contendere
because neither Mr. Adrian nor his attorney actually said
"nolo contendere." Second, Mr. Adrian claims
that he was not adequately apprised of the nature of the
charges against him and the consequences of his plea. More
pointedly, Mr. Adrian posits that the colloquy failed to
establish that he was forfeiting certain constitutional
rights as a result of his plea, namely his right to
assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment. As a result,
he maintains that he did not enter his plea voluntarily and
knowingly. Finally, Mr. Adrian contends that his plea was not
supported by a sufficient factual basis. In response, the
State argues that there is sufficient evidence to support a
conclusion that Mr. Adrian understood the nature of the
charge and the consequences of his plea. The State
additionally maintains that there was a sufficient factual
basis to support the plea. The Court conducted a hearing on
the Application on September 22, 2015, Mr. Adrian appearing
by video, and March 8, 2016.
Island General Laws § 10-9.1-1 creates a statutory
remedy for post-conviction relief that is "available to
any person who has been convicted of a crime and who
thereafter alleges either that the conviction violated the
applicant's constitutional rights or that the existence
of newly discovered material facts requires vacation of the
conviction in the interest of justice." DeCiantis v.
State, 24 A.3d 557, 569 (R.I. 2011). The statute reads,
in pertinent part:
"10-9.1-1. Remedy--To whom available--Conditions.
"(a) Any person who has been convicted of, or sentenced
for, a crime, a violation of law, or a violation of
probationary or deferred ...