County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Matthew S. Dawson, Esq.
Defendant: Jeanine P. McConaghy, Esq.
matter presently before the Court is Petitioner Curley
Snell's (Snell or Petitioner) Application for
Post-Conviction Relief. The Petitioner claims the Rhode
Island Parole Board (the Board) failed to adhere to the
requirements of Rhode Island law and due process by denying
him parole without providing sufficient justification for its
decision. He now asks this Court to order a new parole
hearing because of that perceived deficiency. Jurisdiction is
pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 10-9.1-2.
March 19, 2001, Snell was charged with one count of felony
domestic assault (Count 1), two counts of assault with a
dangerous weapon (Counts 2 and 3), and one count of simple
domestic assault after previously having been convicted twice
of domestic assault (Count 4). On December 11, 2001, a jury
convicted Snell on all charges and, on March 22, 2002, Snell
was sentenced to a total of forty-five years, thirty years to
serve and the remaining fifteen years suspended, with fifteen
years' probation. Specifically, the Court sentenced Snell
to serve fifteen years on Count 1 and a consecutive fifteen
years to serve on Count 3. On Count 2, the Court imposed a
fifteen-year suspended sentence, with fifteen years of
probation to commence upon his release from the Adult
Correctional Institutions (ACI). Lastly, on Count 4, Snell
was sentenced to ten years, of which five years was to serve
concurrent to Count 1 and five years thereafter suspended,
with probation to commence upon his release from the
has been serving his sentence at the ACI for roughly fifteen
years. In that time, he has twice gone before the Board. The
first time, in 2011, the Board voted to deny parole. In
explaining its decision, the Board stated that it "[wa]s
the first time Mr. Snell ha[d] come before the Board on this
serious offense." See Pet'r's Ex. A.
Again, in 2014, Snell went before the Board seeking parole.
This time, the Board noted that its denial was "due to
the serious nature of Mr. Snell's crime, the length of
his sentence and the opposition from the Attorney
General's Office." Id.
October 23, 2014, Snell filed the instant Petition with this
Court seeking post-conviction relief based on the Board's
repeated denial of his parole. In his Post Conviction
Memorandum, filed April 20, 2016, Petitioner argues that the
Board's April 16, 2014 decision to deny parole was in
violation of the Rhode Island General Laws, the Rhode Island
Parole Board Guidelines, and his due process and equal
protection rights provided for by the state and federal
constitutions. There is no dispute as to the above facts.
Rather, Petitioner argues that the Board's decision was
considering all the arguments raised by Petitioner, the Court
believes that the Board's decision was legally sufficient
based on state and federal law. Accordingly, the
Petitioner's Application for Post-Conviction Relief is
denied for the reasons set forth in further detail below.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rhode Island, "[p]ursuant to the provisions of G.L. 1956
§ 10–9.1–1, 'the remedy of
postconviction relief 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) (quoting Page v. State, 995 A.2d
934, 942 (R.I. 2010)); see also Brown v. State, 32
A.3d 901, 907 (R.I. 2011). "An applicant for
postconviction relief bears the burden of proving, by a
preponderance of the evidence, that such relief is warranted
in his or her case." DeCiantis, 24 A.3d at 569;
Larngar v. Wall, 918 A.2d 850, 855 (R.I. 2007).
Supreme Court has further expounded that the actions of the
Rhode Island Parole Board are further reviewable by this
Court pursuant to a petition for postconviction relief.
See State v. Ouimette, 117 R.I. 361, 365, 367 A.2d
704, 707 (1976). "It seems to us that [§] 10-9.1-1,
the postconviction remedy statute, is the proper vehicle for
bringing [parole challenges] before the court."
Id. Included in the Court's authority to hear
parole challenges is the ability of the ...