Thursday, July 02, 2020
After House Minority Leader and Joint Committee on Legislative Services (JCLS) Secretary Blake Filippi asked Attorney General Peter Neronha to provide legal advice in recent matters pertaining to the JCLS, Neronha responded — and explained why he can’t take part.
On Wednesday, Filippi raised new legal concerns over receiving a JCLS document request from former U.S. Attorney Robert Corrente, who is representing Jeff Britt in the money-laundering case involving Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.
At his press conference, Filippi said he had asked Neronha to hire an attorney to help “navigate the wicked web” between Mattiello, the JCLS, and the Britt case — and Neronha responded in a letter to Filippi dated the same day.
Neronha said representing Filippi at his request would “not be in the best interest of Rhode Island.”
“Thank you for meeting with me on May 20, 2020 via video conference. At your request, we discussed Filippi v. Mattielllo et. al., KC 2020-0508, and in particular, your request that the Office of Attorney General (“Office”) represent you as the Plaintiff in this lawsuit, or alternately, pay for the attorney fees you have incurred,” wrote Neronha, who continued:
“The office determined, pursuant to R.I. General Laws 9-33-11, because of a conflict in interest or because it was not in the best interest of the State of Rhode Island, that the Office should not provide legal representation to the defendants.
While there may be situations where this Office may represent a state officer as a plaintiff, or where this Office may be named plaintiff, in a dispute among an/or between co-equal branches of government, these situations present unique circumstance central to the operation of government and the separation of power doctrines.”
Regarding Filippi’s request for legal advice, Neronha wrote the following.
“When this office is presented with a general and broad legal question without regard to specific facts — such as the ones presented here — we simply cannot account for every theory of liability or potential defenses that may apply in a particular case. As you well know, different factual scenarios often accept for different legal conclusions.”
“I understand his reasoning and respect his decision,” said Filippi. “Since I received the letter his office’s APRA unit has been very helpful.”