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Nantucket is the Tits: Is Rhode Island next?

It’s a hot July day. You enter Scarborough Beach, a South County favorite. Stepping out from the parking lot you feel the heat coupled with the ease of the calm sea breeze. On this semi-crowded beach day you peruse the scene for a good landing spot. Beach towels of all patterns, umbrellas of blues, reds and florals are scattered across the light brown sand. The water glistens and crashes gently to the shore as boogie boarders line up to catch their next wave. 

Now imagine walking up to the same beach, only this time tops are optional for BOTH genders. You enter the beach to see swimmers and sunbathers of all shapes, ages and sizes with exposed chests. Friends, neighbors, your old English teacher perhaps, all shirtless if they choose. You and your crew trudge through the hot sand, trying not to stare and smiling politely as you set out your chairs, towel and cooler, settling in for an epic beach day. How do you feel? Freedom? Discomfort? Equality? Total awkwardness?

For Nantucket this may soon be a reality. Nantucket native Dorothy Stover’s dream of top-optional beaches passed in a Town Hall vote 327 to 242 in the first week of May. It’s not in the clear yet though: For it to become a law the MA Attorney General needs to sign off. “In order to promote equality for all persons, any person shall be allowed to be topless on any public or private beach within the Town of Nantucket,” says Stover. The sexual educator and 7th-generation Nantucket resident believes male and female breasts are not actually that different. 

I remember MY first nude beach experience. In my mid-thirties, mid-pandemic, I’d escaped to Miami to hang with my best guy friend who boasted about his favorite nude beach. Can you guess where we went on my first day of the trip? I peered around the corner from the path to see dozens of bare bodies on a serene white sandy beach with turquoise water. After a few minutes adjusting to new views, I pulled the strings of my bikini, dropping my top onto my towel. A cool breeze whisped across my chest and I let myself sink in and relax. 

Leading up to this experience my mind wandered into overthinking territory. Was I going to be looked at sexually? Was it weird for my male friend and I to hang out in the nude? Would I feel uncomfortable? Self conscious? Would I get sand in the wrong places? These are all valid questions. But strolling the beach topless, I felt accepted and free. Bodies were just bodies, nonsexual and pure.

I spoke to a few locals to gather their comments on public nudity and toplessness at beaches. Here’s what they had to say:

“I’ve been to Europe and the Caribbean and, you know, as soon as you get used to toplessness or full nudity, it loses its shock value very, very quickly. And it just becomes normal. I think it’s just anything that moves towards equality and it’s just a really good thing.” — Charley Francis, 38

“I’ve traveled some in Miami. They’ve got sections of where they have topless and I believe it may be nude. I am all about gender equality and things of that nature but Nantucket… It’s very family oriented. So maybe if they had something as far as sections where it would be cut off, maybe that’d be some sort of something that they can actually work with.” — Jennifer Vinalon, 38

“I have no issues with people who want to go topless but I honestly feel it should be at a designated section of a beach or a dedicated nude beach. I don’t think exposing young kids is a good idea unless they are brought up in that kind of culture.” — Nancy Serpa, 54

“First, I don’t think a child or teenagers should be subject to seeing topless women on a beach. It would be different if we were all raised with that like Europe. It’s not our tradition or custom hence why that would be an uncomfortable situation for me. Don’t get me wrong, a woman’s body is beautiful, however, some things should be left private and not for public display.” — Simmone Mendoza, 55

Could I see topless beaches in RI? Quite possibly, but maybe not as loosely as Nantucket is proposing. Even when I lived in Seattle there were only a few nude beaches, or sections of beaches where clothing was optional. I believe no one should be made to feel uncomfortable anywhere in public areas, regardless of belief, personal values or upbringing. So my vote would be to allow toplessness at some beaches in RI, but only in designated sections. 

Can topless equality with rules and guidelines coexist in the Ocean State? That question is for another epic beach day. Right now, I have some sand to clean off.




FINALLY!: Rhode Island legalizes cannabis for adult use

Pardon my excitement, but WE DID IT!! After years of coordinated advocacy efforts and many months of negotiations between stakeholders, at long last RI lawmakers managed to put a unified legalization bill to a vote on the House and Senate floors, where it passed with minimal opposition and was signed into law by the governor the very next day. Of course, we knew this was coming — not that it was inevitable, as many have opined over the last few years, but that at some point, our legislature would get its act together to join the rest of New England and much of the country in legalizing cannabis for adult use. But even though I meant it every time I said “this is really the year we make it happen,” a part of me was still in shock as I watched the House vote from a wooden bench in the gallery, the back wall lined with police officers standing in solidarity — a thin blue line of stoic opposition. After spending one third of my life advocating for this very moment, it was surreal to see the names of representatives light up in green, one by one, on the Capitol TV screen on the wall. I couldn’t help but well up with emotions as the final gavel fell, signifying the end of cannabis prohibition and the start of a new chapter in RI. 

The Bill That Lived

Whether it was reduced stigma around cannabis due to legalization in 18 other states, continued advocacy work finally making an impact or just an increasingly acute awareness of the tax revenue being lost to MA every day, lawmakers seemed to come to the table with a different attitude this legislative session. 

For the first time in ten years, they managed to put differences aside to come up with a singular bill to file in both chambers – a compromise between the needs and demands of all the various stakeholders, without diluting the best parts of each approach. It’s a tall order, but it was that spirit of collaboration, coupled with some critical last-minute amendments, that brought this legislation over the finish line to become one of the best legalization laws we’ve seen yet in this country. 

Effective Immediately:

  • Possession – Adults (21+) can possess up to 1 oz of cannabis for personal use (maximum of 10 oz in storage per household) and possession of up to 2 oz for adults 18+ and older will be decriminalized, resulting in a civil penalty without the threat of jail time.
  • Home Grow – Adults (21+) can grow up to 6 plants for personal use (3 immature / 3 flowering), as long as safety requirements laid out in the legislation are met.
  • Expungement – While the automatic expungement process is pending (see “Stay Tuned” below), those eligible may petition the court immediately for expedited clearance of their case.
  • Social Equity Fund – All fees paid by legal cannabis businesses will be directed into a dedicated fund to provide assistance to applicants from communities disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of cannabis.
  • Licensing – New license structures will be available and set aside for social equity businesses (with at least 51% of owners or employees qualifying under specific criteria) and worker-owned cooperatives, the latter of which has never been done before – RI may have missed the boat on a lot of firsts when it comes to cannabis, but at least we can say that we led the way in one thing!

The Road to Retail

  • “Hybrid” Dispensaries – Starting August 1, 2022 (mere weeks from now!), the first stores to open for adult-use sales will likely be the ones that are already open. The amended legislation expedites the licensing for existing medical marijuana dispensaries – for a $125,000 fee — in an effort to streamline the path to adult-use cannabis sales.
  • New Licenses – Aside from the nine hybrid licenses that will presumably be granted to each of the existing compassion centers, 24 new retail licenses will also be available right away — of those, 25% of licenses must be awarded to social equity applicants, 25% to worker-owned cooperatives, and all 24 must be divided up equally between the six geographic zones laid out in the state.
  • Cultivation & Vertical Integration – There will be a moratorium on new cultivation licenses for two yearsUnlike our existing dispensary business model, the new licenses will be retail-only, and no single entity will be allowed to possess more than one business license. 
  • Taxes – Retail cannabis sales will be subject to a 7% state sales tax, 10% state excise tax, and 3% municipal tax (the latter of which will only be available to those cities and towns that allow for cannabis businesses).

Stay Tuned:

  • Expungement — The amended legislation mandates for state-initiated (automatic) expungement of criminal convictions for misdemeanor or felony possession up to 2 oz, a process that must be completed by July 1, 2024.
  • Regulatory Authority —  An independent Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) and new advisory board will be created to help craft regulations. Members of the CCC will be appointed by the governor using a suggested list compiled by the legislature — a compromise that was reached after Gov. McKee raised concerns about the constitutionality of too much legislative control over appointees. 
  • Medical Marijuana — All fees associated with application, renewal, and cultivation of medical marijuana for personal use will be eliminated completely as soon as adult-use sales begin, perhaps as early as December of this year.
  • Detecting Impairment — One of the more urgent issues to address as we move forward, at least according to opponents of the legislation, will be the criteria used by law enforcement to detect cannabis impairment in drivers. Proposed solutions include more “drug recognition experts” — a costly pseudoscientific training program, increasingly marketed to police departments in the age of legalization — the odor of cannabis, and blood testing of drivers for THC, but it should be noted that there are no scientifically reliable or valid forms of detecting cannabis impairment yet.

The work of building a stronger, more equitable cannabis industry in RI is far from over, but I believe we have laid a solid foundation with the Rhode Island Cannabis Act. I am sure that I will have plenty of opinions and criticism to offer as we move into the regulation and implementation phases, but for right now, I am quite proud of our small state.




PLEASE JOIN US FOR THE MOTIF 2022 FOOD TRUCK AWARD CEREMONY

Sunday, August 14 from 6-9pm at R1 Indoor Karting, 100 Higginson Ave, Lincoln, RI 02865
Yes, there will be food trucks!

Our Food Truck Awards, now in its 6th year (with time off for pandemics), draws nominations from our food writers and the event planners at Food Trucks In and other food truck events around the state, plus suggestions from the trucks themselves.

We are looking for nominations now — to get a ballot, email tess@motifri.com or hit us up on Facebook!

This year, we’re also doing Drink Awards.

Both events are celebrations of these crowd-pleasing art forms.

When it’s time to pick your favorites, please, but the emphasis isn’t on who wins, it’s on recognizing how much amazing food and drink is being produced right here in our own backyard.




2022 Music Awards are coming

It’s time again for Motif’s RI Music Awards. We are looking for nominations right now – if you’d like a ballot, please email publisher@motifri.com or hit us up on Facebook!

w if you plan on attending and keep an eye out for more information at this link: https://fb.me/e/2EMrtnWcm

SAVE THE DATE!

Monday, July 18, 6 – 9pm at FMH
(Fete Music Hall), 103 Dike St, PVD

Vote Now!!!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KFCK2D7?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=music_awards_voting_waterfire_film_festivals_deck_dining_in_ri_jazz_hands_summer_spritz&utm_term=2022-06-22

See the results from last year!

Learn more about our nomination process.




2022 Weird Fiction Contest

In a tradition stretching back to bygone aeons — pre-pandemic — Motif is working in collaboration with NecronomiCon Providence on a weird fiction contest for writing and art. This is an opportunity to get involved with the ongoing convention homage to PVD’s traditions of creepiness and horror.

critter
Image by Bob Eggleton

Entries must be original creative work evoking the themes, images, characters and feeling of the Cthulhu mythos or similar tales of weird fiction, and must not have been previously published elsewhere.

The winning entry in each category, determined at the sole discretion of our panel of judges, will be published on our website and in our August issue, which will be distributed statewide and at NecronomiCon, happening Aug 18 – 21. Honorable mentions will be published on our website. Submissions by e-mail must be received by us no later than 11:59pm on Jul 31, 2022; no other submissions will be accepted. Winners will be notified by Aug 12 via e-mail sent to the address from which we received their entry. Additional haunted goodies, still to be determined, will also be awarded. Other prizes will include a featured role in the annual Cthulhu prayer service, collectible tomes and gift certificates.

Each entry must include your real name, city and state of residence, and optionally a pseudonym if you’re choosing not to be published under a real name. (Including your telephone number is helpful.) There is no minimum age, but entrants under the age of 18 must accompany their entry with a statement of permission from a parent or guardian.

Use of the City of Providence and its surrounding area as a setting counts in your favor, but is not necessary.

Writing category: An English-language work of prose fiction with a maximum of 2,000 words. It is not required that you try to imitate Lovecraft’s style; make it spooky or horrifying. Send to cthulhu@motifri.com as either plain text or HTML text in the body of your message, or as attachments in ODT, DOC/DOCX, RTF, or PDF format.

Art category: A work in digital form with resolution of at least 300dpi. Non-digital (such as hand-drawn or painted) work must be scanned at similar resolution. Send to cthulhu@motifri.com as attachments in TIF, PNG, (high quality) JPG, or PDF format. Printability/ reproducibility will be a factor in the judging. Does it creep out or scare the pants off the judges will be the other important factor, and of course the judges will assess how well it is in keeping with the spirit of weird fiction.

Send any questions to cthulhu@motifri.com as well. Motif reserves the right to change or waive these rules at our sole discretion.




Pot in Every Pot: RI Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

Recreational cannabis will be legal in RI under a new bill that will be signed into law at a ceremony later today (Wed, May 25) announced by Gov. Daniel McKee for 3:15pm on the south plaza of the State House. Motif plans to live-stream the ceremony – facebook.com/motifri/videos – on Facebook. RI joins 18 other states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, that have also legalized.

Sponsored in the Senate (S.24300Aaa) by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-28, Cranston and Providence) and in the House (H.7593Aaa) by Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-10, Providence), the new Cannabis Act is the culmination of a decade of effort to regulate and tax adult recreational cannabis usage similarly to alcohol. Both chambers passed textually identical versions late yesterday (Tue, May 24) afternoon by overwhelming votes, 32-6 in the Senate and 55-16 in the House, largely along party lines with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing the bill, sending it to the governor for his signature. The approvals were widely expected after favorable committee reports last week (Wed, May 18): although the Senate took only a half-hour to debate and vote, the House engaged in a more contentious debate that consumed two hours before voting.

RI Senate passes Cannabis Act (H.2430) by vote of 32-6, May 24, 2022.
RI House passes Cannabis Act (H.7593) by vote of 55-16, May 24, 2022.

For adults at least age 21, possession of personal use quantities of cannabis was decriminalized by RI in 2013, but the new legislation expands that to decriminalize both sale and possession of up to one ounce, and up to 10 ounces for personal use may be kept at a primary residence. Small amounts up to three plants can be grown by those for whom possession is allowed.

A late amendment provides for automatic expungement of criminal convictions, changed from earlier versions of the bill that would have required individual petitions to the courts. (See “ExSPONGing Away Criminal Records: Fighting for automatic expungement in RI”, by Kristen Dansereau, Apr 6, 2022.) Convictions eligible for expungement include any prior civil violation, misdemeanor, or felony conviction for possession of cannabis that would be decriminalized by the new law. Automatic expungement by July 1, 2024, will occur without requiring affected individuals to file a request, pay a fee, or have a hearing, but those who choose not to wait may request an expedited process to have their records expunged sooner.

Municipalities not already hosting medical compassion centers may by referendum opt out of allowing sales. Municipalities currently hosting licensed cultivators or testing laboratories may opt out for the future, but existing facilities will be grandfathered in. A procedure is provided that allows communities to revisit their decision to opt out in later years, should they choose to do so. Municipalities may by local ordinance ban use of cannabis in public places.

In addition to the regular sales tax of 7%, new excise taxes will be imposed on cannabis sales of 10% to the state and 3% to the municipality in which the sale occurs. The new law eliminates fees for patients and caregivers in the RI medical cannabis program, including for identification cards and plant tags, effective Dec 1.

The general assembly said in a statement the law creates a new three-member Cannabis Control Commission whose members are appointed by the governor with input from the Speaker of the House and approval from the Senate, assisted by a new Cannabis Advisory Board. The existing administrative Office of Cannabis Regulation within the Department of Business Regulation will handle the transition to legal recreational use, including issuing hybrid licensing to existing compassion centers and cultivators.

RI Sen. Joshua Miller (D-28)

In the statement Miller, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, said, “The reality is that prohibition does not stop cannabis use. Since Rhode Islanders can already access cannabis just across the state border or on the illicit market, we experience all the challenges without any of the safeguards or resources that our neighboring states have. With this bill, we are ending prohibition in a way that is safe, keeps revenue in Rhode Island, and is as fair and equitable as we can possibly make it. This bill has been years in the making, and is a collaborative effort to address concerns about protecting medical use, ensuring fair governance and recognizing that we cannot make this transition without taking action to make whole the communities and individuals who have been punished for decades under prohibition.”

RI Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-10)

In the statement Slater, who is first vice chair of the House Finance Committee, said, “Social equity has been a top concern for us throughout this whole process. Senator Miller and I represent some of the communities that have suffered disproportionate harm from prohibition for decades, resulting in generational poverty and mass incarceration. The starting line isn’t the same for people in poor, urban and minority communities, and they deserve support to ensure they get the full benefit of participating in legalization. I am grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly for recognizing the importance of expungement of criminal records and equity in licensing, because they are absolutely critical to ending prohibition fairly.”

Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-23, Warwick), the speaker of the House, said in the statement, “I thank all the advocates, stakeholders, staff and especially Representative Scott Slater, who has worked tirelessly on this issue for the past decade. The bill represents a strong foundation from which to build the safe, equitable regulation of cannabis for adult use. We are proud that this legislation prioritizes the participation of people most impacted by the past enforcement of cannabis laws both through automatic expungement and the creation of a licensing structure based on social equity.”

Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-29, Warwick), the majority leader, said in the statement, “This is a truly momentous day for Rhode Island. I’m deeply grateful to Senator Miller for his years of hard work and leadership on this issue, and I’m incredibly proud to have been part of reaching this point. I also want to thank President Ruggerio for his support throughout this process. Ending cannabis prohibition helps us right past wrongs while creating new opportunities for all Rhode Islanders. This is the right move, at the right time, for our state.”

Jared Moffat of Regulate RI and the Marijuana Policy Project

Jared Moffat, long active in the RI legalization effort since his days as a Brown University student and now state campaigns manager for the national Marijuana Policy Project, said in a press release, “We are grateful to Rep. Scott Slater and Sen. Josh Miller for their years of leadership on this issue. Rhode Islanders should be proud of their lawmakers for passing a legalization bill that features strong provisions to promote equity and social justice. We’re also thankful to Rep. Leonela Felix who advocated tirelessly for the inclusion of an automatic expungement provision that will clear tens of thousands of past cannabis possession convictions.”

In addition to Miller, the Senate bill was co-sponsored by Sens. McCaffrey, Goodwin, Ruggerio, Coyne, Pearson, Acosta, Kallman, Archambault, and Murray. In addition to Slater, the House bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Hull, Williams, Kazarian, Solomon, McNamara, O’Brien, Potter, Bennett, and Morales.

Motif has made available the portions of the full House and Senate sessions relevant to the Cannabis Act:

  video and audio audio only
Senate (34m) (38.5MB) (4.1MB)
House (2h02m) (138.5MB) (14.6MB)

 




Not Quite Together Yet: Barker’s Putting it Together a swing and a miss

Passion and good intentions do not translate into a solid theatrical production, otherwise the current show at Barker Playhouse would automatically be a hit.

The seven-person cast in “Putting it Together,” a musical review of dozens of songs by the great composer Stephen Sondheim is certainly enthusiastic, but the show simply appears too ambitious for an amateur group like Barker to pull of successfully.

Imagine – the original London production included Diana Rigg in the lead, and the Broadway opening included Carol Burnett and George Hearn. Some of the voices in the Barker production are strong and clear, but not all. When there are just seven in the cast, that’s a grave deficit.

The show does have the nostalgia factor – songs like “Have I Got a Girl for You,” “Country House,” “Back in Business,” ”Getting Married Today” and “Old Friends” remind the audience of Sondheim’s power and the appeal of such shows as “Company,” “Follies,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Assassins.”

But the songs are not all easy to execute and the cast struggles at too many points. In addition, after just half of the 33 numbers in the two-hour production, the cast seems depleted. Performing as three couples working the songs in tandem, the cast is hobbled by a lack of chemistry that makes some interactions almost painful. Instead of couples, they seem randomly matched and that makes the lyrics less impactful and believable.

In addition, while the presence of seven stools positioned across the stage at the beginning of the show implies it might unfold as a concert, many of the numbers feature choreography that is mostly lackluster and forced. Again, the lack of chemistry makes other moves seem forced and sloppy moves are distracting. When the stools are employed, as six seat while one offers a solo, the seated actors seem checked out and bored instead of engaged.

With the nostalgia of hearing favorite show tunes, there are a few moments that are well executed. Steve Lavallee has a strong, clear voice that resonates beautifully on “Pretty Woman” from “Sweeney Todd.” Rebecca Kilcline’s soprano voice is lush, especially on “Unworthy of Your Love.” Her rapid-fire delivery in “Getting Married Today” offer the show’s best moments. And Liz Messier’s antics on “My Husband’s a Pig” are sassy and funny.

“Putting it Together” is on stage through May 22 at Barker, 400 Benefit St, PVD. For more information or tickets, go to www.playersri.org




2022 Bartenders Ball

We want to recognize bartenders that elevate tending to an art form. Join us in celebrating your favorite local bartenders! We are still taking nominations, nominate at the link down below, It’s free to enter, and we’d love to know about your favorites!

VOTE NOW!

Voting is now live: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RCHF35D

Where is the event taking place? R1 Indoor Karting, Lincoln, Rhode Island! We know Lincoln sounds far away, but it’s less than 10 minutes from downtown PVD.

When is the event taking place? Monday, August 1st!

Interested in attending? Let us know at this link: https://fb.me/e/1JkOpICgu




Greater RI protections for wiretap warrants: No federal “good-faith” exception to exclusionary rule

RI Supreme and Superior Court Building, Providence.
(Photo: Kenneth C. Zirkel, via Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA 4.0)

The RI Supreme Court this morning (May 5) ruled unanimously, 5-0, in a consolidated case involving multiple criminal defendants (State v. Deric S. McGuire et al.) that a failure to follow strict state law requirements for wiretap warrants totally invalidates those warrants, justifying a suppressing of evidence for all of the fruits of the invalid warrants. While recognizing that federal jurisprudence might allow a “good-faith” exception to admit the evidence because none of the parties intended to break the law regarding wiretap warrants, the Court ruled the RI State Constitution provides greater protection against warrantless searches and seizures and therefore no “good-faith” exception applies.

The RI Supreme Court quotes its own prior ruling in Pimental v. Department of Transportation, 561 A.2d 1348, 1350 (R.I. 1989), that “[t]he [United States] Supreme Court… has recognized the right and power of state courts as final interpreters of state law ‘to impose higher standards on searches and seizures under state constitutions than required by the Federal Constitution.’” Pimental held that traffic stop roadblocks looking for drunk drivers were unconstitutional in RI, despite being allowed under federal law and used in other states.

The Court explained the background of McGuire: “These consolidated cases arose from a Rhode Island State Police investigation into alleged outlaw motorcycle gangs, which led to an indictment in November 2018 against forty-one defendants charging 424 criminal counts, including possession of and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances, conspiracy, and unlawful possession of firearms. As part of the investigation, from May 2017 through May 2018, an Assistant Attorney General presented applications for several orders authorizing the interception of wire, electronic, and oral communications and orders extending, amending, or terminating the wiretaps (the wiretap orders).”

The error arose because the RI Wiretap Act, §12-5.1-3, specifically requires that wiretap orders be issued by either the presiding justice of the Superor Court, Alice B. Gibney, or, if she is disqualified for any reason, by the senior associate justice, Robert D. Krause. When Gibney took medical leave, she designated Krause to act as presiding justice under §8-3-4. However, because Krause managed the court gun calendar, Gibney designated another associate justice, Melanie Wilk Thunberg, to handle wiretap orders. When Gibney returned from medical leave and resumed her duties, relieving Krause of his status as acting presiding justice, she left wiretap orders assigned to Thunberg who had been handling them. (The only other authority specifically restricted to the presiding justice is that of granting immunity from prosecution under §12-17-15.)

When criminal charges were filed, the numerous defendants moved to suppress evidence gained from the wiretaps, arguing the specific provisions of the Wiretap Act superseded the general provisions of statute elsewhere, making the warrants invalid because they were issued by Thunberg, who while an associate justice was neither the presiding justice nor the most senior associate justice, the only two authorized to issue wiretap warrants. The trial court agreed with the defendants and ordered the evidence flowing from the wiretaps to be excluded so it could not be used against them.

Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg, writing for a unanimous Supreme Court affirming the decision of the Superior Court trial proceeding below, went out of her way to emphasize repeatedly that neither the Attorney General nor the Superior Court justices involved thought they were doing anything wrong: “…it is manifest on the record before us that all executive and judicial officers involved in this series of events acted in the best interest of the State of Rhode Island, and that Justice Thunberg was a neutral and detached judicial officer who is highly competent to perform such an endeavor. However, she simply lacked the statutory authority to receive the applications and issue the wiretap orders. Thus, we conclude that the wiretap orders were invalid, and, consequently, the interception of communications pursuant to those orders amounted to ‘unauthorized intrusions’ into these defendants’ private communications.”

Firstly, the Supreme Court held that the issuance of the wiretap warrants was clearly invalid, as the specific provisions of the Wiretap Act were violated.

Secondly, the Court held that suppression of the evidence was the correct remedy. The state argued that precedent had allowed evidence to be used despite technical defects in search warrants that incorrectly omitted mandatory language, but the Court held that to be a much less serious matter, citing a series of previous rulings going back to 1975 that held wiretap warrants to a higher standard than ordinary search warrants.

Thirdly, and most importantly as future precedent, the Court held that no “good-faith” exception applies to an invalid wiretap warrant as might be allowed under federal law: “Alternatively, the state asks this Court to adopt the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule as provided for in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). In Leon, the United States Supreme Court created an exception to the exclusionary rule ‘when an officer acting with objective good faith has obtained a search warrant from a judge or magistrate and acted within its scope.’… We are hard-pressed to conceive that a judicially-created exception to a judicially-created exclusionary rule, such as the Leon good-faith rule, is applicable to the strict statutory mandates under review in these cases.” In other words, the RI Supreme Court explicitly held that evidence that is the fruit of an invalid wiretap warrant is inadmissible at trial and must be excluded because of state law, even if it would be admissible under federal law, recognizing that Rhode Island citizens have greater constitutional protections against improper search and seizure.




Featured Contributor May 2022: LuzJennifer Martinez

Where there were books, libraries and music cassettes, that’s where you would find LuzJennifer Martinez as a kid, growing up in the inner city of Providence. Her passion for reading Babysitters Club books and writing in journals (while listening to some good tunes of course) led her to Rhode Island College for a BA in English (with a Communications minor), which she completed in 2008.

In 2013, she received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Shortly before attending graduate school, LuzJennifer was a freelance reporter for Providence En Español newspaper. She’s also written for What’s News at Rhode Island College, In the Fray Magazine, and The Music Development Agency.

Her personal blog, The Fearless Wordsmith, was launched in 2016 and she currently publishes opinion pieces and essays on Medium. When she’s not writing up a storm of fiction and non-fiction, LuzJennifer works as a full-time inside sales representative for Evolis, a French ID card printer manufacturer.

Additionally, LuzJennifer serves on the BIPOC Advisory Council at What Cheer Writer’s Club and is the Founder/Organizer of Diverse Voices of RI, a creative writing group that fosters inclusivity for writers of all races, backgrounds, and perspectives to speak their truth through the written word and connect. She would also love to start advocacy work for either RAINN or a related local organization in the near future.

When she needs to take a breather, LuzJennifer watches funny videos, dances Salsa in her living room, drinks ridiculous amounts of tea, likes to people watch, chases her cat, creates humongous Spotify playlists, sits in cafes for hours to have more tea, taps into her emo side, and is into everything self-development. Writing for Motif is a dream, she says, so please don’t wake her up!