Rhode Island Court Records

Rhode Island State Court Records

Why Rhode Island Court Records are Available to the Public?

In 1979, the Rhode Island State Legislature pass a law named the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act. This law enables three major changes in 1991, 1998, and 2008 and aims to make sure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Court Records Access Means To You?

The law is similar to the Rhode Island Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are held. The Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act intends to make all public records available and easy to use at all government levels in the state of Rhode Island.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act, it expressively declared that access to information about the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state, Accessing Public Records in Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, access to the government and court records, in particular, a fundamental interest in citizenship and has emphasized that maxim disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations promoted by an act. By promoting prompt public access to government records, the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act is to safeguard the government's accountability to the public.

How the Rhode Island Court Process Functions?

Most cases in Rhode Island courts begin in one of the 5 superior or trial courts in the state’s 5 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Court of Appeals. Most cases before the Court of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state and has the discretion to check decisions of the Court of Appeals to settle important questions of law and to resolve conflicts among the Court of Appeals.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court below

 Court

Small claims

Civil

Appeal

Only the party who was sued can file an appeal. The person who filed the claim cannot appeal.

Either party can appeal.

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your papers or go to court with you – except for an appeal.

You can have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you.

Filling fee for either the defendant or the plaintiff’s claim

$30 -$100 per claim

$180 - $320 per claim

Pretrial Representation

No 

Yes

How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

You do not need a U.S. citizenship to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, bring someone who speaks English and asks the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot offer you an interpreter: Office Of Court Interpreters.

How Rhode Island Court Records Are Structured?

The court records group is for civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $200,000. Close to 175,000 civil court records filed with the courts annually. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, like cases to resolve (or “quiet”) title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

  • Auto Torts
  • Other Personal Injury / Property
    Damage / Wrongful Death
  • Other Tort
  • Other Civil
  • Contracts
  • Real Property
  • Employment
  • Enforcement of Judgment
  • Unlawful Detainers
  • Judicial Review
  • Complex Litigation
  • Small Claims Appeals

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $10,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 100,000 of small claims cases filed statewide every year.

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
  • Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for the repairs.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • Your tenant caused damage to the apartment, and the repairs cost more than their security deposit (Note: You cannot use small claims court to evict someone.).
  • You lent money to a friend, and he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away.
Rhode Island State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
Rhode Island Bristol County Courthouse 1816

Rhode Island Bristol County Courthouse 1816

  • State archives hold over 38,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of courts – trial and appellate.
  • The Rhode Island Superior Court is the state trial court of general jurisdiction in Rhode Island.
  • The highest court in Rhode Island is the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
  • The Rhode Island Supreme Court is the court of the last resort in the U.S. State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. 
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