Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Due Process Court Cases

The right to due process ensures that government agencies and municipalities proceed fairly in citizens' in their day-to-day dealings with the bureaucracy. Legal rights cannot be vindicated when the government denies or severely limits the rights of individuals to seek relief in the courts. Nor can they be preserved if attorneys are unfairly limited in zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients.

Lavik v. DMV (2011-2012)

DUE PROCESS AND OPEN GOVERMENT. A lawsuit challenging the Division of Motor Vehicle’s actions in refusing to reinstate a person’s driver’s license based on a “policy” that appears nowhere in the agency’s rules and regulations. The lawsuit, filed in R.I. Superior Court on behalf of Warwick resident Marc Lavik, argues that the DMV’s actions are in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), an important state law that requires agencies to provide advance notice and a public comment period before adopting policies that affect members of the public.   Cooperating Attorneys: Albin Moser and Melissa Braatz
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Machado v. City of Cranston (2012)

DUE PROCESS (2012) A lawsuit in federal district court on behalf of a Cranston resident seeking the return of a variety of lawfully possessed weapons that were seized by police. The lawsuit argues that the Cranston Police Department has violated his right to due process and his right to keep and bear arms by retaining his property without just cause.

News Release | Complaint | News Release

Carbone v. State of Rhode Island. (2010-ongoing)

DUE PROCESS. A federal lawsuit against the RI Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) contesting a "notice of action" sent to plaintiff Gerald Carbone informing him that his licence would be suspended, but giving no information about the nature of the alleged offense leading to the suspension, about the penalty for the offense, or even the date that the offense purportedly took place. The suit argues that this notice and the fact that the DMV will only grant a hearing after the licence is suspended violate Carbone's due process rights.  The suit seeks a temporary restraining order against the DMV to prevent the agency from taking any action against Carbone.  Cooperating Attorney: James E. Kelleher.
News Release | Lawsuit

R.I. Coalition Against Domestic Violence v. Carcieri. (2008-ongoing)

DUE PROCESS/OPEN GOVERNMENT. Lawsuit challenging on a variety of grounds a provision in a Gubernatorial executive order requiring all vendors and contractors doing business with the state to register with the federal government’s E-Verify work authorization program. A temporary restraining order was denied. Cooperating Attorney: Randy Olen
News Release | Lawsuit

University of Rhode Island Student Senate v. Town of Narragansett.

DUE PROCESS. Lawsuit challenging on various grounds a town ordinance that authorizes police to charge tenants and landlords with allowing, and to place orange stickers on houses that have allegedly been the site of, “unruly gatherings.” Discovery is proceeding. Cooperating Attorney: H. Jefferson Melish
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R.I. ACLU v. State of Rhode Island [Court Interpreters]. (2004-2011)

ACCESS TO THE COURTS. This is a formal administrative complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming that the state has failed to provide adequate language interpreter services to criminal defendants. A review has been initiated.
News Release | Complaint

Becker v. State of Rhode Island. (2008)

DUE PROCESS/PRIVACY. Lawsuit challenging a Division of Motor Vehicles policy requiring people to present their Social Security card in order to renew their drivers’ license. The Division agreed to rescind the policy and pay court costs. Cooperating Attorney: James Kelleher
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In re: Todd McElroy. (2006)

ACCESS TO THE COURTS/PRIVACY. “Friend of the court” brief addressing whether the civil commitment hearing of a convicted sex offender should be public. The brief, citing the quasi-criminal nature of the detention and the state’s questionable use of the mental health statute in this instance, argued that the proceedings should be open at least in part, but that the defendant’s confidential healthcare information deserved privacy protection in the proceedings. The court ruled that the proceedings would be closed. Cooperating Attorney: Katherine Powell
News Release | Brief

R.I. ACLU v. Najarian. (2005-2006)

DUE PROCESS. Lawsuit challenging the Division of Motor Vehicles’ failure to formally adopt any rules and regulations governing the issuance of drivers’ licenses, such as the eligibility of immigrants to obtain licenses, the documentation required to obtain a license, and the procedures for appealing denials of licenses. In response to the suit, the agency proposed formal rules and held a public hearing on them. The suit was thereupon voluntarily dismissed. Cooperating Attorney: Thomas W. Lyons
News Release

Young v. City of Providence. (2003-2005)

RIGHT TO COUNSEL. “Friend of the court” brief challenging, on free speech and due process grounds, the imposition of sanctions on plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Cornel Young, Jr. civil rights case for allegedly misstating the judge’s position in court papers. The district court denied the ACLU permission to file the brief in 2003; the brief was filed in the appellate court in 2004, which overturned the sanctions in 2005. Cooperating Attorney: Amy R. Tabor
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Due Process Cases Over the Years

Highlights from court cases since the early 1970s in each of the areas below:

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