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Desamours v. State

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

June 14, 2019

Adless Desamours
v.
State of Rhode Island.

          Superior Court Providence County PM 12-128 Sarah Taft-Carter Associate Justice

          For Applicant: Peter F. Spencer, Esq., Hans Bremer, Esq., Randy Olen, Esq.

          For State of Rhode Island: Christopher R. Bush Department of Attorney General

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

          OPINION

          Maureen McKenna Goldberg, Associate Justice

         Adless Desamours (applicant) appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief in Providence County Superior Court.[1] This case came before the Supreme Court on March 28, 2019, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After hearing the arguments of counsel and reviewing the memoranda of the parties, we are satisfied that cause has not been shown. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth herein, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

         Facts and Travel

         On September 15, 1999, at approximately 5 p.m., applicant was arrested by Providence police officers in Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island. The applicant was charged by way of criminal information with one count of possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, in violation of G.L. 1956 § 21-28-4.01(C)(1)(a), and one count of obstructing a police officer, in violation of G.L. 1956 § 11-32-1. The facts leading up to applicant's arrest and subsequent plea of nolo contendere are in dispute.

         According to the criminal information and the accompanying documents, on September 15, 1999, Officer Shawn Kennedy (Officer Kennedy) of the Providence Police Department was on patrol in Roger Williams Park and observed applicant, who was seated at a picnic table, drinking a bottle of malt liquor. As Officer Kennedy approached applicant to inform him that he was not allowed to drink alcohol in the park, he observed "in plain view" a $20 bill on the picnic table next to applicant. The $20 bill had a "white powder substance" on it, which appeared to be cocaine. When asked his name, applicant falsely identified himself as "Dale Montellio" and stated that his date of birth was April 12, 1974. The applicant was taken into custody "without incident for public drinking and possession of suspected cocaine[.]" Officer Kennedy also seized the bottle of malt liquor and the $20 bill, which later tested positive for cocaine. Once at the police station, it was discovered that applicant's real name was Adless Desamours and that his date of birth was January 20, 1978.

         On November 30, 1999, applicant entered a plea of nolo contendere to the charge for possession of cocaine and was sentenced to two years' probation. The count for obstruction was dismissed pursuant to Rule 48(a) of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure. The plea colloquy at the November 30, 1999 hearing, which is at issue in this appeal, went as follows:

"THE COURT: * * * As to Count One, possession of cocaine, do you understand what you're doing by pleading nolo to this charge? It's equivalent to a plea of guilty, and you're giving up certain rights.
Your right to have a trial, your right to take an appeal, your presumption of innocence. These things you're giving up by pleading nolo to this charge.
Do you understand that?
"DEFENDANT: Yes.
"THE COURT: And you signed this piece of paper, this document, yourself? No one forced you ...

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