Plaintiff: Carlton Bleau, Pro Se
Defendant: Jeanine McConaghy, Esq.
case is before the Court on Petitioner Carlton Bleau's
(Mr. Bleau) motion for postconviction relief. Jurisdiction is
pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 10-9.1-2. For the reasons stated
below, Mr. Bleau's application for postconviction relief
Facts and Travel
substantive facts of the instant case are set out fully in
State v. Bleau, 668 A.2d 642 (R.I. 1995). Mr. Bleau
is currently serving multiple sentences in connection with a
1993 conviction for first and second degree sexual assault
and malicious destruction of property. Before the Court is
Mr. Bleau's petition for postconviction relief alleging
ineffective assistance of counsel. This is Mr. Bleau's
third application for postconviction relief.
hearing on his current petition for postconviction relief,
Mr. Bleau called only one witness, Attorney Robert Craven
(Attorney Craven). At the outset, this Court finds that
Attorney Craven's testimony was both credible and
consistent. Attorney Craven attempted to be accurate, precise
and cooperative with Mr. Bleau and the State. However, he
clarified that his recall of the case was limited because his
representation of Mr. Bleau took place approximately sixteen
years ago. Moreover, due to the length of time that has
passed since he represented Mr. Bleau, Attorney Craven
testified that he no longer retains Mr. Bleau's file.
Based on testimony provided at the hearing, the Court makes
the following findings of facts.
two years after his conviction in 1993, Mr. Bleau learned
that an FBI agent-Michael Malone (Agent Malone)-who testified
for the prosecution at Mr. Bleau's trial, may have
provided misleading and overstated testimony regarding
whether hair and fabric samples taken from the crime scene
were a match for samples taken from Mr. Bleau's head and
the victim's jeans. See Bleau v. Wall, 808 A.2d
637, 640-41 (R.I. 2002). Thereafter, Mr. Bleau filed his
first application for postconviction relief based on
newly-discovered evidence. Id.
Bleau was successfully represented by Attorney Craven at a
hearing before a trial justice of the Rhode Island Superior
Court in the case entitled Bleau v. Wall, PM No.
97-4545, which took place approximately sixteen years ago.
Before representing Mr. Bleau, Attorney Craven had previously
been employed as a prosecuting attorney in the Office of the
Rhode Island Attorney General (Attorney General's
Office), which is the same office that prosecuted Mr. Bleau.
At the Attorney General's Office, Attorney Craven rose to
the position of Assistant Chief of the Criminal Division
(Assistant Chief). Pursuant to office protocol, a paralegal
in the office routinely placed Attorney Craven's name on
responses to discovery requests in cases which had not been
arraigned and were awaiting permanent assignment at the
Attorney General's Office. See Exs. 1 and 2.
Thus, although Attorney Craven was not actively involved in
Mr. Bleau's case, the office used his name as the
responding attorney in documents which corresponded to Mr.
Attorney Craven left the Attorney General's Office and
entered private practice. Attorney Craven testified that it
was his practice to inform new clients that he was a former
prosecutor. Further, Attorney Craven testified that he
informed Mr. Bleau that he was a former prosecutor at the
start of his representation. He does not recall Mr. Bleau
having objected to his representation. See Ex. 5. At
the hearing before the Superior Court on Mr. Bleau's
first application for postconviction relief, Attorney Craven
represented Mr. Bleau and was successful in having Mr.
Bleau's convictions set aside. Subsequently, the State
appealed the trial justice's ruling to the Rhode Island
Supreme Court. This Court notes that Attorney Craven did not
represent Mr. Bleau on appeal. On appeal, the Rhode Island
Supreme Court reversed the hearing justice's ruling.
Bleau, 808 A.2d at 640-41. The Court determined that
the hearing justice had committed an abuse of discretion when
he failed to hold an evidentiary hearing before granting Mr.
Bleau's application for postconviction relief.
Id. Further, the Court concluded that the Department
of Justice's reports lacked materiality and were merely
cumulative and impeaching. Id. at 644. Thus, the
Court held that Mr. Bleau was not entitled to postconviction
relief. Id. at 644-45.
2004, Mr. Bleau filed a second application for postconviction
relief in which he alleged that 1) he was denied the right to
a speedy and fair trial; 2) the trial justice erroneously
refused to appoint a new attorney to represent him; and 3) he
was denied effective assistance of counsel. Bleau v.
State, 968 A.2d 276, 277 (R.I. 2009). At a hearing
before the Superior Court, the trial justice denied the
application in open court. Id. at 278. Thereafter,
Mr. Bleau appealed to the Supreme Court. Id. The
Supreme Court found that Mr. Bleau was barred from bringing
the first two claims under the doctrine of res
judicata and that he had no evidence to support his
third claim. Id. at 278-79. Therefore, the Court
denied Mr. Bleau's second application for postconviction
relief. Id. at 279.
the matter before the Court is Mr. Bleau's third
application for postconviction relief. Mr. Bleau's
current application focuses not on the propriety of his
original trial, but on the representation provided to Mr.
Bleau by his publicly-financed, court-appointed counsel-
Attorney Craven-during his first application for
postconviction relief. In his current petition, Mr. Bleau
alleges ineffective assistance of counsel by Attorney Craven.
Specifically, Mr. Bleau contends that Attorney Craven had a
conflict of interest due to his prior employment at the
Attorney General's Office.
Standard of Review
10-9.1-1 to 10-9.1-9 govern the statutory remedy of
post-conviction relief, which is "available to any
person who has been convicted of a crime in this state and
who thereafter alleges either that the conviction violated
his or her constitutional rights or that the existence of
newly discovered material facts requires the vacation of the
conviction in the interest of justice." Larngar v.
Wall, 918 A.2d 850, 855 (R.I. 2007). "[A]n
application for postconviction relief is civil in nature,
" and the applicant has the burden of proving that
"relief is warranted" by a ...