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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Supreme Court Circuit Ride Brings Justices to URI, Oct. 25

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

The Following announcement is from the Rhode Island Judiciary

PROVIDENCE, RI -- Oct. 19, 2005-- The Rhode Island Supreme Court will again revive the centuries-old tradition of Riding the Circuit when it hears oral arguments at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Tuesday, Oct. 25.

“One of my goals as Chief Justice has been to remove the mystery enshrouding our court system and thereby increase access to our justice system. That is why we have started a number of programs designed to teach people how the courts work. By traveling to different parts of the state we can bring the courthouse to communities outside Providence so students and other can see first hand how their justice system works,” Chief Justice Frank J. Williams said.

In the days before the automobile, courts would travel throughout their jurisdiction to hear arguments. This practice, called riding the circuit, was eventually dropped as transportation methods made it easier for litigants to travel. Under the guidance of Chief Justice Williams, this practice has been revived as a way to open up the judicial process. Now, twice a year, the Supreme Court literally moves its entire operation to a local community and invites students and members of the community to see the process first hand.

Other educational initiatives by the court include Justice Rules, a K-12 educational curriculum on the courts currently taught in 25 communities throughout the state. The program is fully adaptable to individual school needs and allows students and teachers to interact with judges and attorneys both in and out of the classroom. In addition to the curriculum, novel teaching techniques are employed including mock trials and a CSI-oriented educational program that hones students’ math and science skills while teaching them how criminal evidence is handled before a trial.

Court will begin at 9 a.m. in Edwards Auditorium. Those wishing to observe, should arrive by 8:30, however all visitors to the University’s Kingston Campus must stop at the Visitors Center on Upper College Road to obtain a visitor pass for parking and use of the campus transit service. Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation, should call 401-874-2403 at least three business days in advance. For TTY assistance, please call the R.I. Relay Service at 1-800-745-5555.

While at URI, the Justices will hear arguments in the following cases:

STATE V. THOMAS MENARD
Attorneys: Jane McSoley (State) and Todd Dion (Menard)
The State appeals from the Superior Court’s dismissal of a charge of possessing a firearm while having previously been convicted of a crime of violence (§11-47-5 of the RI Firearms Act), where the underlying conviction for a ‘crime of violence’ was based on an Arizona conviction for arson of an unoccupied structure. The State asks the Court on appeal if, for the purposes of triggering the provision of the firearms statute in question, the classification of a predicated conviction entered in a foreign state is governed by the law of Rhode Island or by the law of the foreign state.

MARIA ESPOSITO ET AL. V. JAMES P. O’HAIR ET AL.
Attorneys: Stephen P. Sheehan (Esposito) and Michael G. Sarli, Jacqueline Kelley, Thomas R. Bender (O’Hare)
This appeal arises out of a medical malpractice action, where all claims but one for medical expenses were settled by all parties. The medical expenses were paid on behalf of the decedent by DHS under the State Medical Assistance program. The issue on appeal concerns whether medical expenses paid by a source collateral to the injured party are recoverable. Appellant doctor and insurance underwriter ask the court to consider whether the medical malpractice collateral source statute (§9-19-34.1), which attempts to shift the cost of medical expenses due to medical malpractice from medical practice liability insurers to collateral sources, was intended to apply to medical assistance or Medicaid payments.

JOSEPHINE K. HORTON V. DUANE M. HORTON
Attorneys: M. Teresa Paiva Weed (J. Horton) and Christopher E. Friel (D. Horton)
The defendant appeals from a Family Court decision pending entry of final judgment. On appeal, the defendant takes issue with several of the trial justice’s findings relative to equitable distribution, custody and alimony. First, he claims that the court erred in ordering him to maintain medical coverage for the benefit of the plaintiff for a period of three years so long as she remains unmarried. Next, the defendant claims that the court erred in including his one-quarter interest in real estate in Virginia as a marital asset subject to equitable distribution. The defendant’s third claim of error is that the trial justice erred in awarding the plaintiff rehabilitative alimony for a period of five years.

STATE V. EDWARD MANN
Attorneys: Diane Benevides (State) and Paula Rosin (Mann)
The defendant appeals from a conviction for receiving stolen goods. On appeal, defendant challenges hearsay evidence, rulings on his objections and motion to strike character evidence.

MATTHEW T. PRINGLE V. ARMANDO DAMIANI ET AL.
Attorneys: Harry W. Asquith Jr. (Pringle) and Michael R. DeLuca (Damiani)
Defendants appeal from the denial of their motion to vacate a default judgment in this negligence case. Defendants argue that their actions constituted excusable neglect and that they have meritorious defenses.

Contact: Sue Pegden
Office (401) 222-8631, Cell (401) 641-6152

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