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State v. Parenteau

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Kent

June 8, 2018

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
v.
MITCHELL PARENTEAU

          For Plaintiff: Kaitlin Tracey, Esq.

          For Defendant: Daniel P. Griffin, Esq.

          DECISION

          K. RODGERS, J.

         This matter is presently before this Court on the State's appeal from the entry of a deferred sentence agreement by a Magistrate of the Superior Court, pursuant to Rule 2.9 of the Superior Court Rules of Practice.

         In its Notice of Appeal, the State contends that a judicial officer's imposition of a deferred sentence, in the absence of agreement by the Office of Attorney General, violates the doctrine of separation of powers. For the reasons that follow, this Court accepts the Magistrate's entry into the deferred sentence agreement and denies the State's appeal.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         Defendant, Mitchell Parenteau (Defendant), was charged with possession of a controlled substance, to wit, Alprazolam, arising from an incident in Coventry on April 1, 2016. He was also charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. On April 9, 2018, Defendant pled nolo contendere to each of the aforementioned charges before a Magistrate of the Superior Court. In accordance with G.L. 1956 § 12-19-19, the Magistrate formally deferred sentencing Defendant for a period of three years.[1] At that hearing, it appears[2] that the State presented little more than a standard objection for the record. The State filed its Notice of Appeal on April 10, 2018.

         II

         Standard of Review

         Rule 2.9(h) of the Superior Court Rules of Practice governs this Court's review of a Superior Court Magistrate's decision. This Court is required to make a de novo determination of those portions of the Magistrate's decision to which the appeal is directed, and it may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the judgment, order, or decree of the Magistrate. R.P. 2.9(h). This Court is not required to formally conduct a new hearing, and it may consider the record developed before the Magistrate in making its own determination whether there is competent evidence upon which the Magistrate's judgment rests.[3]

         It is well settled that one who challenges the constitutionality of a statute bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the act violates a specific provision of the Rhode Island Constitution. Narragansett Indian Tribe v. State, 110 A.3d 1160, 1162 (R.I. 2015); Oden v. Schwartz, 71 A.3d 438, 456 (R.I. 2013); Mackie v. State, 936 A.2d 588, 595 (R.I. 2007); State v. Garnetto, 75 R.I. 86, 93, 63 A.2d 777, 781 (1949). "'[L]egislative enactments of the General Assembly are presumed to be valid and constitutional.'" State v. Faria, 947 A.2d 863, 867 (R.I. 2008) (quoting Newport Court Club Assocs. v. Town Council of Middletown, 800 A.2d 405, 409 (R.I. 2002)). Accordingly, "[w]hen reviewing a challenge to a statute's constitutionality, this Court [must] exercise[ ] the 'greatest possible caution.'" Mackie, 936 A.2d at 595 (quoting Cherenzia v. Lynch, 847 A.2d 818, 822 (R.I. 2004)). Further, this Court is required to "attach every reasonable intendment in favor of * * * constitutionality in order to preserve the statute." Gem Plumbing & Heating Co. v. Rossi, 867 A.2d 796, 808 (R.I. 2005) (internal quotation omitted).

         III

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