417 A.2d 323 (R.I. 1980), 78-124, State v. Tassone

Docket Nº:78-124-C.A.
Citation:417 A.2d 323
Opinion Judge:DORIS, Justice.
Party Name:STATE v. Anthony TASSONE.
Attorney:Dennis J. Roberts, II, Atty. Gen., Joel S. Chace, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., for plaintiff. John F. Cicilline, Providence, for defendant.
Case Date:July 16, 1980
Court:Supreme Court of Rhode Island
 
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Page 323

417 A.2d 323 (R.I. 1980)

STATE

v.

Anthony TASSONE.

No. 78-124-C.A.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

July 16, 1980.

Dennis J. Roberts, II, Atty. Gen., Joel S. Chace, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., for plaintiff.

John F. Cicilline, Providence, for defendant.

OPINION

DORIS, Justice.

This is an appeal by the petitioner, Anthony Tassone (Tassone), from an "amended judgment" entered in a postconviction-relief proceeding before the Superior Court. The amended judgment, which was entered after a hearing held in the petitioner's absence, changed the petitioner's five-year criminal sentence, rendered illegal by the passage of G.L. 1956 (1969 Reenactment) § 11-1-6, as enacted by P.L. 1975, ch. 283, § 2, to a permissible two-year sentence. Tassone contends that as he was not

Page 324

present at the postconviction-relief hearing and as his counsel was not permitted to address the sentencing issue directly, he is entitled to a rehearing.

In 1973, Tassone (then a defendant) and three other defendants were tried and convicted of conspiring to corrupt horse trainers at Lincoln Downs racetrack in violation of G.L. 1956 (1969 Reenactment) § 11-7-9. Tassone was sentenced, as the other defendants had been earlier, to serve five years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI). The sentence was to run consecutively with one Tassone was already serving in New Jersey for a criminal conviction on another charge in that state. After Tassone's Rhode Island sentence was imposed, he was returned to New Jersey.

Tassone and the other three defendants appealed their conspiracy convictions, and their sentences were stayed pending the outcome of these appeals. Because Tassone's sentence was stayed, the trial justice deemed it appropriate to delete any reference to the fact that Tassone's sentence was being served consecutively with his sentence in New Jersey. In State v. Ciulla, 115 R.I. 558, 351 A.2d 580 (1976), this court affirmed the conspiracy convictions of the four defendants.

The four defendants had been sentenced under the authority of G.L. 1956 (1969 Reenactment) § 11-1-1, which provided that every offense at common law (in this case, conspiracy) was punishable by a prison term not to exceed ten years or a fine not to exceed $5,000. While the defendants' appeals in State v. Ciulla, 115 R.I. 558, 351 A.2d 580 (1976), were pending, however, the Legislature at its January 1975 session enacted § 11-1-6, which provided...

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