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Young v. State

Superior Court of Rhode Island

June 7, 2016

JAY YOUNG
v.
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND

          ATTORNEYS: For Plaintiff: Noah J. Kilroy, Esq.

          For Defendant: Jay Sullivan, Esq.

          DECISION

          RUBINE, J.

         This petition for post-conviction relief is brought by Jay Young (Petitioner) pursuant to the provisions of G.L.1956 § 10-9.1-1, et seq. Petitioner claims that the Rhode Island Parole Board (Board) denied him due process by denying him parole without providing adequate justification or explanation of the reason or reasons therefore. The State of Rhode Island (State) opposes this petition and urges the Court to sustain the Board's determination. The facts and arguments of this case are strikingly similar to those pertaining to a petition for post-conviction relief resolved in Christopher Rocheleau v. State of Rhode Island, C.A. No. KM-2014-0812 (R.I. Super. Ct. May 4, 2015) (Rubine, J.). In Rocheleau, this Court denied a petition for post-conviction relief presenting an identical claim-that a petitioner was denied parole without adequate justification. The same result should be applied in this case for the same reasons relief was denied in Rocheleau. Accordingly, the petition for post-conviction relief is denied. Petitioner makes no attempt to distinguish the Rocheleau decision or its rationale. In the absence of binding appellate authority to the contrary, this Court must decide like cases in like fashion.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         The following facts are gleaned from the verified petition filed by Young. On March 31, 1998, Petitioner pled nolo contendere to one count of second degree murder and one count of conspiracy. Following the plea, Young was sentenced to a term of sixty years imprisonment, with forty years to serve and the remainder suspended with probation on the second degree murder count, and ten years imprisonment on the conspiracy count. Both sentences were set to run concurrently.

         On June 22, 2015, Petitioner appeared for the first time before the Board and was denied parole. In the minutes prepared by the Board, the reason given for the denial was stated as follows:

"the Board acknowledges Mr. Young's remorse and efforts at programming but must balance this with his involvement in the purposeful beating and murder of an innocent person, conspiracy to commit the murder, his going to great lengths to conceal it[, ] and significant victim impact on the family. The Board believes that to parole him at this time would promote disrespect for the law. Accordingly we will deny him but will reconsider him in five years." Pet'r's Ex. A.

This language is alleged to be an insufficient statement of the reasons for denying Petitioner's parole request as a matter of law. There do not appear to be any disputes of fact; the sole question submitted is the legal sufficiency of the Board's reasons for the denial of Petitioner's probation request.

         II

         Standard of Review

         Our Supreme Court has held that objections to Parole Board proceedings are reviewable in Superior Court by way of a petition for post-conviction relief. State v. Ouimette, 117 R.I. 361, 365-66, 367 A.2d 704, 707 (1976). This Court notes that the applicant for post-conviction relief bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, ...


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