Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Records

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How do Rhode Island Courts work?

The Supreme Court is the highest legal power in the state of Rhode Island. It has the ability to check decisions made by the lower Court of Appeals, weighing in on important questions regarding law, as well as any conflicts. In turn, the Court of Appeals carries out a similar function over the courts below it, but only when one party contests a decision made. These lower courts include the five superior or trial courts across Rhode Island’s five counties. Other tiers of court include Family Court, District Court, Workers’ Compensate Court, and the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

Civil Cases and Small Claims

Civil court and small claims court each deal with different types of cases in Rhode Island. For instance, the civil court exists to handle cases in which petitioners are looking for more than $200,000. There are close to 175,000 of these cases each and every year in Rhode Island. However, they are not limited to monetary cases, as the civil court also handles things such as name changes, restraining orders, and property disputes. On the other hand, small claims court deals with much lower claim values, namely, cases in which the petitioner is seeking under $10,000. This is not represented by counsel, and there are close to 100,000 of these cases each year in Rhode Island. They can include disputes over loans, deposits, repairs, warranties, and more. The small claims court also has the power to order defendants into an action, such as paying a fee.

Appeals and court limits

There are also a number of differences between the appeals processes and the court limits in civil and small claims courts. Only the defendant in a small claims cases can appeal the decision made, while either party can appeal in a civil matter. A person may not have a lawyer represent them, or file papers on their behalf in a small claims case, but both are allowed in a civil case. Pretrial discovery is also only allowed in a civil case and not a small claims matter. Small claims cases have a filing fee of between $30 and $100, and each party is then given 30-70 days to complete their case. Civil cases have filing fee of between $180 and $320, and each party is then given up to 120 days to complete their case.

Why are court records public?

The Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act was passed in 1979, with the most recent amendments coming in 2008. There were also big changes to the act in both 1991 and 1998. The act exists to ensure that Rhode Island residents can access public records at will. All records held by state or local government can be accessed and copied by members of the public. This helps to promote transparency and safeguard government accountability.

To access records:

Island Supreme Court
Licht Judicial Complex
250 Benefit Street
Providence, RI 02903

Debra Saunders, Clerk of the Supreme Court
(401) 222-3272


Rhode Island Court Structure
Rhode Island State Archives

State Archives

Contact: (401) 205-8704

Search Includes

  • Arrests & Warrants
  • Criminal Records
  • Driving Violations
  • Police Records
  • Sheriff Records
  • Inmate Records
  • Felonies & Misdemeanors
  • Probation Records
  • Parole Records
  • Bankruptcies
  • Tax & Property Liens
  • Civil Judgements
  • Marriages & Divorces
  • Birth Records
  • Death Records
  • Property Records
  • Personal Assets
  • Business Ownership
  • Professional Licenses
  • Political Contributions
  • Unclaimed State Funds
  • Relatives & Associates
  • Address Registrations
  • Affiliated Phone Numbers
  • Affiliated Email Addresses

Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island White Horse Tavern was initially constructed in 1673 as a courthouse. Today it is a restaurant.

  • Rhode Island has 8 different courts in their state court system. They are the Supreme Court, the Superior Court, the District Courts, the Municipal Courts, the Family Court, the Probate Court, the Traffic Tribunal, and the Workers’ Compensation Court.
  • The Rhode Island Supreme Court was founded in 1747 for it’s colony, and again in 1841 for the state. It is located in Providence; the state’s capital.
  • The Rhode Island Supreme Court has 5 judicial positions. They are appointed by the governor of the state.
  • The Rhode Island Superior Court is the state general jurisdiction trial court. They have original jurisdiction over all felony proceedings.