Column: Drama at Rhode Island Supreme Court

"I’d rather eat peas, go to a dentist, and listen to Britney Spears sing than be a lawyer appearing before the state Supreme Court.

These judges are tough. In questions and sideline commentary during oral arguments, they’re abrasive with all parties. At yesterday’s hearing on whether Governor Carcieri must testify in the coming Superior Court trial of Narragansett Indians arrested in the 2003 smoke shop raid, the justices first pounced on his lawyer, Marc DeSisto, and on Special Assistant Attorney General Pamela Chin, who was on the same side.

Then they pounced as aggressively, if not more, on William Devereaux, lawyer for the Narragansetts. Then, when DeSisto rose for rebuttal, Chief Justice Frank Williams greeted him by chirping, “We’ll work you over, too.”

I sensed drama coming even before the session began. Justice William Robinson was addressing visiting students from Westerly High School and introduced me. I took the occasion to ask how interesting he found this case. He called it “fascinating,” with murky precedents and of great public interest, and signaled that he and his colleagues would be in top form. “You try to give your best effort to everything that comes before you. But it’s just like (Curt) Schilling in the World Series gave an even greater effort in that second game than I think he did last April.”

Withering questions from all five justices exploded like firecrackers at the hearing, which focused on whether Carcieri can refuse to testify about orders he gave the state police."

Get the Story:
M. Charles Bakst: Smoke shop: High court, high drama (The Providence Journal 11/)

Relevant Links:
Narragansett Tribe -

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