Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Court To Hear Narragansett Smoke Shop Case January 7

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Narragansett Indian leader John Brown accused prosecutors and the judiciary of acting in bad faith after a breakdown in a plea deal and a Friday state Supreme Court ruling that will not require Rhode Island Governor Carcieri to testify about the orders he gave the state police to raid a tribal smoke shop in 2003 in which 7 tribal members were arrested.

"There's no way we're going to get a fair hearing in Rhode Island," Brown told the Providence Journal.

Brown and six other tribal members, including Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas, were charged with misdemeanor counts including simple assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The court urged the tribal members' lawyer, William P. Devereaux, and the attorney general's office to work out a plea agreement but since the tribal members refused to plead guilty and prosecutors want "accountability on all their parts," they could not reach an agreement prior to last Friday's Supreme Court hearing. They will go to trial on Jan. 7.

The state police raided the smoke shop on July 14, 2003, after the tribe began selling cigarettes without charging Rhode Island taxes. Tribal members claim the police did not show a search warrant and that troopers "came in attacking people left and right."

An ABC news report shows video footage of the smoke shop raid in 2003: