79 A.3d 1284 (R.I. 2013), 2011-259-Appeal, DePina v. State

Docket Nº:2011-259-Appeal.
Citation:79 A.3d 1284
Opinion Judge:GOLDBERG, Justice.
Party Name:Jorge M. DePINA v. STATE of Rhode Island.
Attorney:John B. Lawlor, Jr., Esq., East Providence, for Appellant. Danielle R. Menard, Esq., for Applicant.
Case Date:December 06, 2013
Court:Supreme Court of Rhode Island

Page 1284

79 A.3d 1284 (R.I. 2013)

Jorge M. DePINA


STATE of Rhode Island.

No. 2011-259-Appeal.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

December 6, 2013

Page 1285

John B. Lawlor, Jr., Esq., East Providence, for Appellant.

Danielle R. Menard, Esq., for Applicant.



GOLDBERG, Justice.

This case came before the Supreme Court on October 22, 2013, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and

Page 1286

show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. The applicant in this case, Jorge M. DePina 1 (applicant or DePina), filed a subpoena duces tecum in connection with his application for postconviction relief, seeking discovery of the mental health records of Gelci Reverdes (appellant or Reverdes), who testified as an eyewitness in the applicant's 1998 murder trial. Reverdes is before the Court on appeal from a Superior Court order denying her motion to quash the subpoena. After hearing the arguments of counsel and carefully examining the memoranda filed by the parties, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown and that the issues raised by this appeal may be decided at this time. For the reasons discussed below, we vacate the order and remand the case to the Superior Court with directions to make findings consistent with this opinion.

Facts and Travel

The underlying facts leading up to DePina's application for postconviction relief were discussed in great detail in State v. DePina, 810 A.2d 768, 772-73 (R.I.2002), in which this Court affirmed applicant's conviction on counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The applicant was initially convicted after a jury trial on these counts— in which he was tried jointly with two other defendants— stemming from a stabbing outside a Providence nightclub in the early morning hours of December 28, 1997, that left one man dead. Id. at 773. At trial, Reverdes was one of the eyewitnesses who described the events leading up to the stabbing as 100 patrons left the club and a fight broke out. Id. Although applicant filed a pretrial motion to suppress Reverdes' eyewitness identification, the trial justice denied the motion, finding the identification within constitutional limits. Id.

After DePina's appeal was denied by this Court, applicant filed a pro se application for postconviction relief on July 14, 2003, based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. He filed a second pro se application on January 14, 2010, which expanded the grounds upon which applicant sought postconviction relief, including whether the prosecution withheld information regarding an agreement by the state to prevent Reverdes' brother from being deported in exchange for her testimony in DePina's murder trial. On May 21, 2010, applicant— represented by new counsel— filed yet another amended application for postconviction relief, in which he included the claim about Reverdes and reiterated claims of evidence spoliation, jury obstruction, and ineffective assistance of trial counsel.2 Contemporaneous with the filing of this amended application, applicant filed a motion to conduct discovery in connection with his application for postconviction relief.

On March 14, 2011, in a written filing, applicant advised the court that Reverdes had been deposed on March 2, 2011, and at that deposition, she was accompanied by a member of the state's Office of the Mental Health Advocate. At the deposition, Reverdes disclosed that she suffered from mental illness and memory problems, and had been prescribed several psychotropic medications. Reverdes also stated that she was unable to recall how long she had

Page 1287

been on medication or had suffered from such ailments. Based on this information, applicant asserted that Reverdes may have been suffering from mental health or memory issues at the time she identified DePina as a perpetrator or when she testified at his murder trial. The applicant then indicated that he was preparing a motion and a subpoena to obtain all of Reverdes' medical, psychiatric, and psychological records in connection with his application for postconviction relief.

On May 9, 2011, applicant filed a motion 3 requesting the court's permission to issue a subpoena upon the Keeper of Records of Gateway Healthcare (Gateway) for all of Reverdes' psychological...

To continue reading