Plaintiff: Glenn S. Sparr, Esq.
Defendant: Judy Davis, Esq.
this Court is Raymond Lynch's (Petitioner) Application
for Post-Conviction Relief (Application). Petitioner asserts
that his conviction should be vacated because the statutes
under which he was convicted in State of Rhode Island v.
Raymond W. Lynch, K1-1996-0591A (the underlying criminal
case) are unconstitutional in that they fail to describe a
crime and prescribe a penalty therein.
Court's jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 §
10-9.1-1. Having reviewed the parties' memoranda, and for
the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that
Petitioner's conviction was not unconstitutional.
Accordingly, Petitioner's Application is denied.
November 14, 1996, Petitioner was indicted on eight counts:
three counts of first degree sexual assault under G.L. 1956
§§ 11-37-2 and 11-37-3 and two counts of second
degree sexual assault under §§ 11-37-4 and 11-37-5,
all of which were alleged to have occurred between January 1,
1991 and September 24, 1996; one count of second degree
sexual assault under §§ 11-37-4 and 11-37-5 and one
count of simple assault under § 11-5-3, both of which
were alleged to have occurred between July 1, 1994 and
February 15, 1995; and one count of simple assault under
§ 11-5-3, which was alleged to have occurred on
September 20, 1996. On April 1, 1998, a jury found Petitioner
guilty of three counts of first degree sexual assault and two
counts of second degree sexual assault, all of which occurred
between January 1, 1991 and September 24, 1996. The jury
found Petitioner not guilty as to the remaining three counts.
On June 26, 1998, as to each of the three counts of first
degree sexual assault, he was sentenced to sixty years, with
thirty years to serve at the Adult Correctional Institutions
(ACI), the balance of thirty years suspended, with probation
and various other conditions. As to both counts of second
degree sexual assault, he was sentenced to ten years to serve
at the ACI. The trial justice ordered all sentences to be
served concurrently. Petitioner appealed his conviction to
the Rhode Island Supreme Court and the Supreme Court
affirmed. State v. Lynch, 854 A.2d 1022 (R.I. 2004).
to the instant Application, Petitioner filed several other
applications for post-conviction relief. On October 22, 2004,
Petitioner filed an application for post-conviction relief,
which was denied on January 18, 2007. Lynch v.
State, KM-2004-0918. On April 19, 2005, Petitioner filed
another application, which was denied on May 1, 2007.
Lynch v. State, KM-2005-0347. Petitioner appealed
that decision and the Supreme Court affirmed. Lynch v.
State, 13 A.3d 603 (R.I. 2011). On November 15, 2011,
Petitioner filed another application, which was denied on
August 30, 2012. Lynch v. State, KM-2011-1399.
Petitioner appealed, and the Supreme Court affirmed based on
res judicata. Lynch v. State, 86 A.3d 390
(R.I. 2014) (Mem.). On October 2, 2014, Petitioner filed
another application, which was denied on April 27, 2015.
Lynch v. State, KM-2014-1098. Petitioner filed a
Petition for Writ of Certiorari, which was denied on October
16, 2015. Lynch v. State, SU-15-0252. On April 28,
2016, Petitioner filed another application, which was denied
on August 3, 2016. Lynch v. State, KM-2016-0405.
Petitioner filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, which was
denied on November 25, 2016. Lynch v. State,
November 5, 2018, Petitioner filed the instant pro
se Application for Post-Conviction Relief asking this
Court to vacate his conviction for first and second degree
sexual assault in the underlying criminal case, alleging his
conviction is unconstitutional. On November 20, 2018, the
State filed a Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's Application.
In response, Petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss the
State's Motion to Dismiss together with a supporting
the agreement of the Attorney General and by Order dated
February 22, 2019, this Court limited all
arguments to "the constitutionality of a
criminal statute which allegedly fails to state what
constitutes the crime alleged and/or fails to provide for a
penalty thereunder," without the State raising the
affirmative defenses of res judicata and/or
13, 2019, Petitioner's court-appointed counsel filed a
Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Petitioner's
Application for Post-Conviction Relief. On May 24, 2019, the
Court provided notice to the State and Petitioner's
court-appointed counsel that Petitioner's request for
relief would be considered by this Court in the context of a
summary disposition. The parties thereafter acknowledged that
an evidentiary hearing was unnecessary to resolve the issues
before this Court. The State filed an objection and
supporting memorandum thereto on August 5, 2019.
§ 10-9.1-1, any person who has been convicted of a crime
may file an application for post-conviction relief to
challenge the constitutionality of his or her conviction.
Sec. 10-9.1-1(a)(1). Unlike the proceedings afforded to
Petitioner for his underlying conviction, post-conviction
relief motions are civil in nature. Brown v. State,
32 A.3d 901, 908 (R.I. 2011). Accordingly, the applicant
bears "'the burden of proving, by a preponderance of
the evidence, that such [post-conviction] relief is
warranted.'" Motyka v. State, 172 A.3d
1203, 1205 (R.I. 2017) (quoting Anderson v. State,
45 A.3d 594, 601 (R.I. 2012)). Additionally, because
Petitioner challenges the constitutionality of his
conviction, Petitioner has the heightened burden of
demonstrating unconstitutionality beyond a reasonable doubt.
See State v. Beck, 114 R.I. 74, 77, 329 A.2d 190,
ruling on an application for post-conviction relief, if the
court considers matters outside the pleadings, the court
should "treat the [party's] motion as though it were
a motion for summary disposition" as opposed to a motion
to dismiss. Palmigiano v. State, 120 R.I. 402, 406,
387 A.2d 1382, 1385 (1978). As will be discussed, this Court
has considered Petitioner's indictment, which is outside
the pleadings in the instant civil action. Accordingly, this
Court will review Petitioner's Application in the context
of a summary disposition motion under § 10-9.1-6(c),
which "'closely resembles' a grant of summary
judgment under Rule 56 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil
Procedure." Reyes v. State, 141 A.3d 644, 652
(R.I. 2016) (quoting Palmigiano, 120 R.I. at 405,
387 A.2d at 1384).
§ 10-9.1-6(c), the court may grant summary disposition
when it finds, based on "the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions and agreements of
fact, together with any affidavits submitted, that there is
no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Sec.
10-9.1-6(c). The standard for granting summary disposition on
an application for post-conviction relief is the same as in
granting summary judgment under Super. R. Civ. P. 56(c)-the
"trial justice must consider the affidavits and
pleadings . . . in the light most favorable to the party
against whom the motion is made." Palmigiano,
120 R.I. at 406, 387 A.2d at 1385. The trial justice may not
resolve genuine issues of material fact or adjudge the weight
or credibility of the evidence. Reyes, 141 A.3d at
asserts that his conviction violated his due process rights
under both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United
States Constitution and article I, section 10 of the Rhode
Island Constitution because the statutes of conviction,
§§ 11-37-2 and 11-37-4, fail to state what conduct
qualifies as a crime and fail to provide a penalty. In
response, the State contends that Petitioner cannot prove
that §§ 11-37-2 and 11-37-4 are unconstitutional
beyond a reasonable doubt because Chapter 37 of Title 11 of
the Rhode Island General Laws, when read as a whole, clearly
and unambiguously provides a description of the criminalized
conduct and states a penalty.
was convicted of three counts of first degree sexual assault
in violation of § 11-37-2. Section 11-37-2 provides:
"A person is guilty of first degree sexual assault if he
or she engages in sexual penetration with another person, and
if any of the following circumstances exist:
"(1) The accused, not being the spouse, knows or has
reason to know that the victim is mentally incapacitated,
mentally disabled, or physically helpless.
"(2) The accused uses force or coercion.
"(3) The accused, through concealment or by the element
of surprise, is able to overcome the victim.
"(4) The accused engages in the medical treatment or
examination of the victim for the purpose of sexual arousal,
gratification, or ...