Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
2002 Veto
2002 No Action

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July 11, 2001


In accordance with the provisions of Rhode Island General Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith with my disapproval, 2001-S 0342, "An Act Relating to Criminal Procedure - Indictments, Informations and Complaints."

This bill repeals the sunset provision of a law requiring the court to provide notice to aliens that a plea of guilty or nolo contendere may have immigration consequences. Under the terms of the sunset provision, the law will expire January 15, 2003.

Last year, the General Assembly enacted a law that required the courts, prior 10 accepting a plea of guilty or nolo comendere, to inform a criminal defendant that if he or she is not a United States citizen, such pleas may have serious immigration consequences. The law also entitled the defendant, upon proper petition for post-conviction relief, to have the plea vacated if the court failed to issue the warning. In response to concerns raised by the Attorney General and Other members of the law enforcement community, a sunset date of 2003 was included, as well as a provision requiring the Attorney General to report to the General Assembly those cases in which a disposition was vacated pursuant to this law. The purpose of these provisions was to allow law enforcement to collect statistics and evaluate the effect of the law.

I veto this bill because repeal of the future sunset provision is premature. In a recent letter to me, the Attorney General indicated that the sunset provision remains a necessary tool to reasonably assess the effect of this legislation and that the full impact of last session's legislation has yet 10 be determined. I concur. This law has been in effect for just a little over one year, and the report on its impact thus far has only covered the first six months of us implementation. It is too early to repeal the sunset provision without first adequately determining the Statute's impact on the court system, the defendants before it, as well as the victims of crime. In the interim, the law remains in effect.

For these reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond