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Appellate Unit

The Appellate Unit is charged with representing the State in all criminal matters before the Rhode Island Supreme Court, defending the State in federal courts and assisting prosecutors with legal research and analysis on a broad array of issues. In carrying out these responsibilities, the members of the Unit work with great diligence and passion to persuade members of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and the members of the federal judiciary of the correctness of the State’s causes. The Unit’s attorneys work equally hard in assisting trial prosecutors with legal issues as they arise during the course of pre-trial and trial litigation, and assisting other attorneys in research and analysis on a variety of questions of concern.

The Appellate Unit filed with the Rhode Island Supreme Court 41 pre-briefing statements defending state-favorable judgments.

In 2012, the Unit filed with the Rhode Island Supreme Court 41 pre-briefing statements defending State-favorable judgments (of conviction, denying post-conviction relief, of probation violence, etc.) entered in the lower courts (usually the Superior Court). The Unit further submitted to the Rhode Island Supreme Court 33 full briefs, defending State-favorable judgments entered in the lower courts.

The Unit additionally filed with the Rhode Island Supreme Court 20 responsive memoranda in opposition to some defendant-requested extraordinary action. As well, the Unit defended against 12 federal habeas corpus petitions brought in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island (id.), and submitted one brief in a federal habeas corpus case in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Attorney General Kilmartin dedicated an appellate attorney to manage all post-conviction relief actions challenging judgments of conviction entered by way of plea disposition as well as those resulting in a trial on behalf of the Office. In 2012, the Appellate Unit disposed of 37 post-conviction relief actions in the Superior Court. While not all of these post-conviction relief matters where disposed of by way of Superior Court denials, in every one of the cases justice was appropriately achieved, as no Superior Court post-conviction relief grant was entered over the objection of the criminal appeals/post-conviction relief unit prosecutor.

During the 2011-2012 term for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, all but two defendant-challenged judgments were reversed, representing a 96% success rate.

In addition to the extraordinary time dedicated to the written appeals, briefs, pre-briefs and post-conviction relief actions, the appellate attorneys regularly argue before the various courts, enjoying an excellent success rate. During the 2011-2102 term for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, all but two defendant-challenged judgments were reversed, representing a 96 percent success rate. Moreover, the Appellate Unit was entirely successful in fending off criminal-defendant requested extraordinary action and federal habeas corpus relief.