Due Process Issues The ACLU of Rhode Island is Involved With - Court Cases, Legislation, News Releases


Protecting Civil Liberties in Rhode Island for Over 50 Years


Due Process

The ACLU of Rhode Island fights to ensure that government agencies and municipalities proceed fairly when dealing with citizens in their day-to-day dealings with the bureaucracy and in the court system. Legal rights cannot be vindicated when the government denies or severely limits the rights of individuals to seek relief in the courts, or fails to give them a meaningful opportunity to be heard and contest actions that affect their liberty.

The ACLU of Rhode Island is currently advocating for strong privacy protections to be included in a bill that undercuts the presumption of innocence and would require the collection of DNA from individuals who are merely arrested, but never convicted, for a wide array of crimes.

Due Process in the News

  • May, 22, 2018: Medical Professionals Urge Defeat of Drug Homicide Bill; Say it Undermines Response to Opioid Crisis
  • Apr, 13, 2018: ACLU Appeals Court Ruling in Providence Student Housing Case
  • Mar, 02, 2018: ACLU of Rhode Island Raises Red Flags Over “Red Flag” Gun Legislation

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Due Process Related Court Cases

2018: Calderon v. Nielsen
Category: Active Case    Discrimination    Racial/Ethnic Discrimination    Due Process    Fair Administration of Justice    Immigration    

About This Case:
This is petition for writ of habeas corpus on behalf of ICE detainee Lilian Calderon, 30, a Rhode Islander and Guatemalan immigrant mother of two who came to the U.S. when she was 3.

Current Status:
In April, the ACLU filed a separate class action lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s pattern of separating married couples and families pursuing lawful immigration status. The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Lilian Calderon.

On February 13, Lilian was released from ICE detention while her case is pending.

Adriana Lafaille, Matt Segal - ACLU of Massachusetts


Supporting Documents
2017: Lacoste v. RI State Police
Category: Active Case    Due Process    Fair Administration of Justice    Open Government    Police Practices    


About This Case:
This is a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the RI State Police for abusing their power by retaliating against a Warwick resident who declined to serve as an informant for the agency in an ongoing criminal investigation. The lawsuit argues that RISP relied on a dubious state law to bar the plaintiff from continuing to work at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln when she bowed out of assisting RISP as an informant.

Current Status:
Suit filed in November 2017.

ACLU Cooperating Attorney:
James W. Musgrave

Supporting Documents

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Due Process Related Legislation

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN)  (H 7233)
Category: 2018    Due Process    

This legislation, opposed by the ACLU, would allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to attest to a patient’s mental health condition and participate in certifying patients for mandated outpatient treatment, something that only doctors can do presently. While APRNs play a significant role in the mental health community, last year ACLU Board member Heather Burbach argued that recommendations for such a weighty deprivation of liberty should stay in the hands of physicians. Read our full testimony here

Speed Cameras (H 7760, H 7956, H 7984, H 8005)
Category: 2018    Due Process    

The ACLU of Rhode Island supports the various bills aimed at repealing the 2016 legislation authorizing the installation of speed cameras to issue traffic tickets (H-7760, H-7956, H-7984, H-8005). 

Generally, the major purpose of pulling over a vehicle is to address the unsafe driving as it occurs. Sending a notice or citation days or even weeks after a driver has already successfully sped through the zone negates the immediate benefit. The cameras negate any ability for an officer to make a judgement call as to the driver's actions - speeding to avoid an accident is treated the same as causing an accident by speeding. Instead officers are looking at photos from these speed cameras, unable to determine if the driver was operating under the influence of alcohol, experiencing a medical emergency or involved in any number of other issues requiring law enforcement intervention. 

The ACLU was opposed to the 2016 legislation on the grounds that the law serves to financially benefit cities and private companies operating the cameras more than public safety, and we support the attempts to limit the proliferation of this revenue making technology. Currently, all four House bills have received a hearing in House Judiciary, and H-7956A is set to receive a vote on the House floor. Read the ACLU's full comments here.

Expulsion of Senator Kettle (S 2490)
Category: 2018    Due Process    

Following the filing of criminal charges against Senator Kettle, the RI Senate rushed to hold a vote seeking his expulsion. The State Constitution gives the Senate the power to punish its members, but that power should be exercised with an abundance of caution. In modern history, the RI Senate has not used this ability to expel a member. The ACLU urged the Senate to slow down the rush to vote in order to very carefully consider the procedures used to oust democratically elected members. Senator Kettle resigned before the scheduled hearing on S-2490. Read the ACLU's full letter to the Senate. 

“Red Flag” Gun Law (H 7688, S 2492)
Category: 2018    Due Process    

In the wake of the tragic shooting of students in Parkland, Florida, the General Assembly introduced so-called “Red Flag” legislation (H-7688S-2492) aimed at removing firearms via an “extreme risk protection order” (ERPO) from individuals who pose a “significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others.” While the ACLU lauds this effort to reduce gun violence, we have serious concerns about the impact on basic due process rights. As well intentioned as this legislation is, its breadth and its lenient standards for both applying for and granting an ERPO are cause for great concern, which is explained in detail in this 14-page analysis of the legislation.

The House passed a version of this bill.

Juvenile Interrogation (S 2430)
Category: 2018    Due Process    

Legislation introduced by Senator William Conley, S 2430 will require that a minor have a parent or guardian present during questioning by law enforcement. As one of our recent cases shows, juveniles are generally less able to understand their legal rights while being interrogated, yet law enforcement does so as if they were well-informed adults possessing a full understanding of the weight of an interrogation. Rhode Island law generally protects children who are interrogated while at school, requiring a guardian to be present. Yet, if the child’s first interaction with a police officer occurs off campus, no such protection currently applies. This legislation, which has passed the Senate, would rectify that difference.