2002 No Action
2001 No Action
2000 No Action
1998 No Action
1995 No Action
June 30, 1999
TO THE HONORABLE, THE SENATE:
In accordance with the provisions of R. I. Gen. Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 99-S-0642 Sub A, "An Act Relating to Indictments, Information and Complaints."
This bill would require District and Superior Court judges to inform defendants that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere may have an effect on their immigration status. If the court fails to inform the defendant at the time of plea, the defendant shall be "entitled" to have the plea vacated.
The Attorney General has requested that we veto this bill in its present form. The bill as drafted would automatically entitle a defendant to have his plea vacated if a judge is unaware of the defendant's immigration status or if a judge simply neglects to inform the defendant of the potential effect of the defendant's plea on immigration status. This is true whether or not the defendant, prior to his plea, already possessed actual knowledge - from a written plea agreement, a colloquy, his attorney or any other source - that the plea could affect his immigration status. As such, a defendant could knowingly plead to a charge, understand the ramification, but nonetheless be entitled to have the plea vacated by the judge, for whatever reason, fails to place this notification on the record.
I join the Attorney General in believing that it is up to a court to determine at a hearing, based upon the present standards for post-conviction relief, whether the defendant possessed knowledge from any source prior to his plea of the effect of that plea. If a defendant did possess such knowledge, a mandatory plea vacation would not be justified.
For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.