State v. Lancia, 042920 RISUP, P1-19-3607AG

Docket Nº:P1-19-3607AG, P1-19-3607BG
Opinion Judge:K. RODGERS, J.
Party Name:STATE OF RHODE ISLAND v. JOSEPH LANCIA STATE OF RHODE ISLAND v. LANCE IMOR
Attorney:For Plaintiff: Joseph J. McBurney, Esq. Katelyn M. Revens, Esq. For Defendant: Joseph J. Voccola, Esq. Jason Dixon Acosta, Esq.
Case Date:April 29, 2020
Court:Superior Court of Rhode Island
 
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STATE OF RHODE ISLAND

v.

JOSEPH LANCIA

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND

v.

LANCE IMOR

Nos. P1-19-3607AG, P1-19-3607BG

Superior Court of Rhode Island

April 29, 2020

Providence County Superior Court

For Plaintiff: Joseph J. McBurney, Esq. Katelyn M. Revens, Esq.

For Defendant: Joseph J. Voccola, Esq. Jason Dixon Acosta, Esq.

DECISION

K. RODGERS, J.

Before this Court is a Motion by Defendants Joseph Lancia and Lance Imor to disqualify this Court from presiding over this matter, or otherwise require this Court's recusal. The State objected thereto on March 27, 2020. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendants' motion is denied.

I

Background

The charges in this case arise from an incident which allegedly occurred on or about June 12, 2019, in or around 161-163 Messer Street in the City of Providence. The activities in the area of 161-163 Messer Street had been observed and/or recorded by a camera attached to an unspecified pole, which, according to Defendants, had been placed on said pole by the Rhode Island State Police (State Police) approximately fifteen years ago. The State Police applied for certain search warrants supported by affidavits of members of the State Police, and those search warrants were duly executed on June 12, 2019, allowing the State Police to search 161 Messer Street and a Tesla automobile. It is expected that, among other evidence, the State would offer evidence seized as a result of these court-authorized searches. Defendants contend that the search warrant affidavits contain false statements and omitted material facts.

Defendants assert that this Court is disqualified from presiding over this matter because her husband, Scott N. Raynes, now the Chief of Police in Little Compton (Chief Raynes), is retired from the State Police. Defendants maintain that this creates an appearance of impropriety. Moreover, Defendants speculate that discovery in this case, for which they are seeking records dating back roughly three years, may include documents authored by Chief Raynes or by a member of the State Police under his command.

By way of background, Chief Raynes served as a member of Uniform Division of the State Police from 1994 until 2011, at which time he was then assigned in an administrative capacity to the Rhode Island Municipal Training Academy. Chief Raynes was elevated to the position of Executive Director of the Rhode Island Municipal Training Academy, while simultaneously serving as Lieutenant of the Rhode Island State Police, and continued in that role until December 2017. He returned to the Uniform Division for a short time until his retirement in February 2018, at the rank of Lieutenant. From 1999 until 2017, Chief Raynes also served as a member and ultimately team leader of the State Police Tactical Team. On one instance, in the early 2000's, in his capacity as a member of the State Police Tactical Team, he and others made entry into 161 Messer Street pursuant to a court authorized search warrant. At no time was he involved in the investigation prior to or subsequent to the execution of that search warrant, the seizure of any evidence therein, or any prosecution arising therefrom. Moreover, Chief Raynes was unknown to this Court until mid-2004, well after Chief Raynes' brief experience with 161 Messer Street in the early 2000's.

At no time did Chief Raynes serve in the Detective Division, the investigating unit within the Division of the State Police, nor did any member of the Detective Division seek his review of any matters involving these Defendants, 161-163 Messer Street, or the so-called pole...

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