ARLENE VIOLET - Neronha is the real deal

ARLENE VIOLET - Neronha is the real deal

One would be hard pressed to come up with a more qualified attorney general candidate than Peter Neronha. He spent close to 20 years as a prosecutor, first serving under then-Attorney General Jeff Pine in 1996. During his tenure to 2002 in the Attorney General’s office he began in the 6th District Court, which processed thousands of cases. That court has a profound impact on many people since it is usually their first brush with the law. Prosecutors need to have great analytical skills in order to analyze what is important vs. a major problem which may lead to a lifetime of crime. Neronha then went to the “suburbs” in Wakefield before returning to Providence to handle the Providence Superior Court calendar.

Later in 2002 he went to the U.S. Attorney’s office where Neronha served as an assistant U.S. attorney before becoming the United States Attorney. He has a lot of experience as a prosecutor under his belt but that is not the only qualification. Having “guts” should come with the job and he has shown great courage in cases he pursued as U.S. Attorney. Shunting politics aside, he sent law enforcement into the office of then Speaker of the House, Gordon Fox, and prosecuted him successfully. He brought down a corrupt mayor in Central Falls, and locked up an airtight case against Rep. Raymond Gallison who headed the House Finance Committee.

In a recent interview he exhibited a sure sense of what he needs to accomplish in the Attorney General’s office, if elected. Criminal justice reform tops his list. The focus of his office will be to prosecute violent crime. For non-violent crimes he wants to utilize the diversion program for lesser offenders. Finally, in order to stop the cycle of recidivism he will strongly advocate for employment opportunities for prisoners departing from the ACI.

Neronha has a motto of “act more and speak less” which has punctuated his service to the public to date. He lets his actions do the talking, including bringing his message about opioid abuse to classrooms around the state

He thinks issues through. Recently, he was asked about whether he would commit to investigate diocesan sexual abuse cases in Rhode Island. He carefully noted that unlike his peers in some other states, Rhode Island doesn’t have a statute permitting a grand jury to issue a report where a criminal indictment is not returned. Getting such a statute passed is one of his top priorities. He also supports extending the statute of limitations for civil actions to be brought by victims.

There has been a recent hullabaloo over securing records as to how the office of Attorney General spent the Google money secured by his office when he was U.S. Attorney, and turned over to the state. Neronha thinks those records should be available but he prefers a “hands-on” session noting that the Department of Justice had to sign off on use of the Google money with detailed written requests and, in some instances, with the approval of then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Producing those approvals promptly might have settled the issue. Showing a non-partisan streak he suggested that while he supports a number of gun safety initiatives he understood where Republican Patricia Morgan was coming from in seeking a possible source for funds for school safety.

Experience, courage, and analysis: He has the goods.

Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general.