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Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union

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Due Process
Court Cases Over the Years

The Fair Administration of Justice

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. Listed below are some of the cases the ACLU has been involved in over the years addressing the issue of fair administration of justice:


1980: Ruggieri v. Johns-Manville

Successful amicus brief dealing with lawyer gag orders, in which the Federal court ruled that attorneys in civil litigation cannot be prohibited from making public statements about cases except in extreme circumstances.

1986: Crossman v. Marcaccio

“Friend of the court” brief in federal appeals court successfully challenging assessment of attorneys fees against a prevailing plaintiff who obtained less damages than had been offered before trial.

1989: In re: Norman Zalkind

Amicus brief in Court of Appeals challenging on free speech grounds the judicial reprimand of a lawyer for filing a “motion to recuse” a judge; the court reversed the reprimand.

1993: Keenan v. Vose

Unsuccessful federal lawsuit on behalf of an inmate barred from using his prison-earned money to pay an attorney to pursue post-conviction relief on his behalf.

1994: Almond v. U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island

Court brief opposing a U.S. Attorney challenge to the legality of a local court rule requiring judicial approval before the government can subpoena an attorney to obtain information about his or her client; a favorable ruling was issued.

1995: Inscoe v. Family Court

Federal class-action lawsuit against state’s refusal to provide counsel to certain indigent juveniles facing criminal charges.

1995: In re: Advisory Opinion (Appointed Counsel)

Amicus brief in state Supreme Court arguing that the state Constitution requires appointment of counsel to indigent misdemeanants not facing a jail sentence; the court disagreed.

1996: Hayes v. Department of Business Regulation

“Friend of the court” brief opposing state’s attempt to have attorney’s fees imposed on an unsuccessful sex discrimination plaintiff; favorable ruling.

1998: Dickerson v. Vose

Successful habeas corpus petition on behalf of an indigent person who was summarily found in contempt of court and incarcerated for over two years for failing to pay child support.

1998: State v. Awad

“Friend of the court” brief supporting a criminal defendant’s right to withdraw his “nolo” plea to a minor offense when he was not informed that deportation would result from the plea.

2000: Garcia-Nuñez v. Reno

Habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of an immigrant facing mandatory deportation for a criminal offense committed before the federal law requiring such deportation was enacted.

2003: Narragansett Indian Tribe v. State of Rhode Island

“Friend of the court” brief challenging the legality of a state police raid of a smoke shop on Narragansett Indian tribal land.

2004: R.I. ACLU v. State of Rhode Island [Court Interpreters]

Complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming that the state has failed to provide adequate interpreter services to criminal defendants.

2006: United States v. Pho

ACLU brief supporting the ability of judges to consider in sentencing the discriminatory nature of federal guidelines that treat crack cocaine more severely than powder cocaine.

2008: Lynch v. Lead Paint Industries

“Friend of the court” brief opposing the imposition of fines on the Attorney General for violating a “gag rule” issued in the lead paint nuisance case.

2011: Boyer v. Jeremiah

Class-action lawsuit charging that the state’s truancy court system is devoid of basic due process protections, and that school districts unlawfully refer students to the court.


See Other Highlighted Due Process Cases:

Return to: Recent Due Process Cases


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