Rhode Island Court Records

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How Does the Rhode Island Municipal Court Work?

Rhode Island Municipal Courts have authority over most municipal ordinance violations within their territorial jurisdictions. The courts may hear cases involving traffic violations and exercise exclusive jurisdiction over several traffic cases. Municipal Courts also share jurisdiction over some of these cases with the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. However, regardless of jurisdictional similarities, Rhode Island Municipal Courts may not hear cases that fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of a Traffic Tribunal. All Municipal Courts are courts of record.

Municipal Courts may also hear cases on the zoning ordinance or local housing violations; and animal ordinance violations. In some cases, parking permits are also the responsibility of Municipal Courts. For instance, the City of Providence’s Municipal Court issues permits for the city’s Overnight Parking Permit Program and receives fees for the permits. It also collects and adjudicates fines resulting from related violations.

Generally, the Rhode Island statutes allow some authority in handling municipal ordinance violations related to housing. Concerning these violations, Rhode Island Municipal Courts may:

  • Order the vacation, demolition, or repair of any building in violation of an ordinance
  • Enjoin, correct, prevent, or restrain a municipal ordinance
  • Enforce compliance of all provisions of the statutes and ordinances within its jurisdiction

Generally, Municipal Courts may also do one or all of the following:

  • Punish persons for contempt
  • Administer oaths
  • Compel the attendance of case witnesses
  • Execute and authorize search warrants with the same authority exercisable by a District Court justice

Apart from convictions for minimum housing ordinances or violations of the provisions available in the Rhode Island Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code, all defendants may appeal Municipal Court decisions. 

The Rhode Island Judicial System allows persons to appeal these rulings to the Rhode Island Superior Court with jurisdiction over the case. At the Superior Court, the defendant is entitled to a trial de novo. This is a new trial where the court reviews all law issues and facts of the case as if there was no prior trial. For violations of minimum housing ordinances or the Rhode Island Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code, the defendant may file an appeal to the Second Division of the District Court. The defendant will also be entitled to a trial de novo. 

The Second Division is located at:

Murray Judicial Complex

2nd Division District Court

45 Washington Square

Newport, RI 02840–2913

Phone: (401) 841–8350

Note that appellants must file all appeals within seven days of the Municipal Court’s conviction, regardless of the violation or the receiving court.

Each Municipal Court has seven judicial officers. These include one auxiliary judge, four associate judges, one senior associate judge, and one chief judge. Municipal Court judges are appointed by the city or town councils.

The chief judge exercises supervisory and administrative authority over court affairs. For a Municipal Court in a Rhode Island town, the town council has the authority to choose a judge. Where the Municipal Court has jurisdiction over a city, selecting a judge is the city council’s responsibility. Both town and city councils are empowered to create ordinances that should govern the court’s affairs. These may include personal, procedure, operations, and a schedule of fees and costs. Note that the authority required to appoint a Municipal Court judge lies with the mayor of the city in some cases. However, the mayor must seek the advice and consent of the town or city council.

Each judge shall serve for a two-year term, starting from the date the first judge is appointed by the city or town council. The judges’ terms also run concurrently with the city or town council’s term of office. 

An appointed judge must be a licensed lawyer admitted to practice law in the state. The judge must also be in good standing and have a minimum of two years of active law practice experience.

Generally, Municipal Court sentences may not be more than a jail term of 30 days, a maximum fine of $500 or both. However, if the violation constitutes a danger to public safety, health, or welfare, the Municipal Court may impose a fine worth at least half of the total accrued fines. 

Persons interested in Municipal Court records may visit the court or send written requests. Ensure that the request contains details on the desired record and the requestor’s contact information. 

To visit or contact a Rhode Island Municipal Court, use the information provided below:

Bristol County 

Bristol Municipal Court

Burnside Memorial Building

400 Hope Street

Bristol, RI 02809

Phone: (401)253–7000

Warren Municipal Court 

Town Hall

514 Main Street

Warren, RI 02885

Phone: (401)289–0630

Kent County

Coventry Municipal Court

1670 Flat River Road

Coventry, RI 02816

Phone: (401) 822–9187

East Greenwich Municipal Court

125 Main Street

East Greenwich, RI 02818

Phone: (401) 886–3212

Warwick Municipal Court

3275 Post Road

Warwick, RI 02886

Phone: (401) 738–2000 ext. 6213

West Warwick Municipal Court

1170 Main Street

West Warwick, RI 02893

Phone: (401) 822–9201

Newport County 

Middletown Municipal Court

350 East Main Road

1st Floor

Middletown, RI 02842

Phone: (401) 847–0009

Newport Municipal Court

43 Broadway

Newport, RI 02840

Phone: (401) 845–5410

Tiverton Municipal Court

343 Highland Road

Tiverton, RI 02878

Phone: (401) 625–6720

Providence County 

Burrillville Municipal Court

1477 Victory Highway, PO Box 419

Burrillville, RI 02830

Phone: (401) 568–9494 ext. 1

Central Falls Municipal Court

580 Broad Street

Central Falls, RI 02863

Phone: (401) 616–2557

Cranston Municipal Court

5 Garfield Avenue

Cranston, RI 02920

Phone: (401) 477–5010

Cumberland Municipal Court

45 Broad Street

Cumberland, RI 02864

Phone: (401) 728–2400 ext. 154

East Providence Municipal Court

145 Taunton Avenue

East Providence, RI 02914

Phone: (401)435–7540 Ext. 11040

Johnston Municipal Court

1600 Atwood Avenue

Johnston, RI 02919

Phone: (401) 946–7150

Lincoln Municipal Court

100 Old River Road

Lincoln, RI 02865

Phone: (401)333–8453

North Providence Town Hall

2000 Smith Street

North Providence, RI 02911

Phone: (401) 231–4533 ext. 139

North Smithfield Municipal Court

575 Smithfield Road

 North Smithfield, RI 02896

Phone: (401) 356–0564

Pawtucket Police Department

121 Roosevelt Avenue

Pawtucket, RI 02860

Phone: (401) 727–9100

Providence Municipal Court

325 Washington Street

 Providence, RI 02903

Phone: (401) 243–6414

Woonsocket Municipal Court

169 Main Street

Woonsocket, RI 02895

Phone: (401) 762–6400

Washington County

Hopkinton Municipal Court

1 Town House Road

Hopkinton, RI 02833

Phone: (401) 377–7759

Narragansett Municipal Court

25 5th Avenue

Narragansett, RI 02882

Phone: (401) 782–0655

North Kingstown Municipal Court

100 Fairway Drive

North Kingstown, RI 02852

Phone: (401) 268–1557

Westerly Municipal Court

45 Broad Street

Westerly, RI 02891

Phone: (401) 596–7374

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