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Law School Case Brief

State v. Acquisto - 463 A.2d 122 (R.I. 1983)


In Rhode Island it has traditionally been the function of the grand jury to decide whether the evidence presented to it, unexplained and uncontradicted, gives rise to a sufficient quantum of proof to warrant the return of a formal accusation of crime. A grand jury proceeding is not a trial and is not bound by the rules of evidence that apply to an adversary hearing. 


After defendant Acquisto was convicted of first-degree sexual assault, he challenged the judgment of conviction. On appeal, Acquisto contended that the trial court erred in the admission of certain evidence, and that the State's failure to present certain letters that were written to him by the victim invalidated the indictment. Acquisto also contended that the trial court abused its discretion when it permitted a defense witness to be escorted into the courtroom by state marshals, and that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss the indictment challenging the composition of the jury.


Did the trial court err in its judgment of conviction against Acquisto?




The Court applied the standards of Fed. R. Evid. 803(6) and held that the proper foundation was laid for the introduction of certain payroll records into evidence. The Court held that, even if the victim's letters to defendant were exculpatory, the failure to present these letters did not cause to invalidate the indictment. The Court held that it was well within the discretion of the trial court to have a prisoner-witness escorted into the courtroom and guarded by marshals. The court held that there was no error in the denial of the motion to dismiss the indictment.

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