§ 8-16.1-6 Nomination and appointment of judges.
(a) The governor shall immediately notify the commission of any vacancy or prospective vacancy of a judge of any state court other than the Rhode Island supreme court. The commission shall advertise for each vacancy and solicit prospective candidates and shall consider names submitted from any source. Within ninety (90) days of any vacancy, the commission shall publicly submit the names of not less than three (3), and not more than five (5), highly qualified persons for each vacancy to the governor. The governor shall fill any vacancy of any judge of the Rhode Island superior court, family court, district court, workers' compensation court, or any other state court that the general assembly may, from time to time, establish, by nominating one of the three (3) to five (5) highly qualified persons forwarded to him or her by the commission for the court where the vacancy occurs.
(b) The governor shall fill any vacancy within twenty-one (21) days of the public submission by the commission.
(c) Each nomination shall be forwarded forthwith to the senate, and by and with the advice and consent of the senate, each nominee shall be appointed by the governor to serve subject to the general laws. The senate shall, after seven (7) calendar days of receipt of the nomination consider the nomination, but if the senate fails within ninety (90) days after the submission to confirm the nominee, or if the senate does not, by a majority vote of its members, extend the deliberation an additional seven (7) calendar days, the governor shall appoint some other person to fill the vacancy and shall submit his or her appointment to the senate for confirmation in like manner until the senate shall confirm the nomination. If the nominee is rejected by the senate, the commission shall submit a new list of three (3) to five (5) candidates to the governor for the purpose of nomination in accordance with this chapter. Any new list may include, but need not be limited to, the names of any candidates who were previously submitted to the governor by the commission but who were not forwarded to the senate for its advice and consent.
(d) During the time for consideration of the nominees by the senate, the senate judiciary committee shall conduct an investigation and public hearing on the question of the qualifications of the nominee or nominees. At the public hearing, the testimony of every witness shall be taken under oath and stenographic records shall be taken and maintained. Further, the senate judiciary committee shall, during the course of its investigation and hearing, have the power upon majority vote of the committee members present to issue witness subpoenas, subpoenas duces tecum, and orders for the production of books, accounts, papers, records, and documents that shall be signed and issued by the chairperson of the committee, or the person serving in his or her capacity. All such subpoenas and orders shall be served as subpoenas in civil cases in the superior court are served, and witnesses so subpoenaed shall be entitled to the same fees for attendance and travel as provided for witnesses in civil cases in the superior court. If the person subpoenaed to attend before the committee fails to obey the command of the subpoena without reasonable cause; refuse to be sworn; or to be examined; or to answer a legal and pertinent question; or if any person shall refuse to produce books, accounts, papers, records, and documents material to the issue, set forth in an order duly served on him or her; the committee by majority vote of the committee members present may apply to any justice of the superior court, for any county, upon proof by affidavit of the fact, for a rule or order returnable in not less than two (2), nor more than five (5), days, directing the person to show cause before the justice who made the order or any other justice of the superior court, why he or she should not be adjudged in contempt. Upon the return of the order, the justice before whom the matter is brought on for hearing shall examine under oath the person, and the person shall be given an opportunity to be heard, and if the justice shall determine that the person has refused without reasonable cause or legal excuse to be examined, or to answer a legal and pertinent question, or to produce books, accounts, papers, records, and documents material to the issue that he or she was ordered to bring or produce, he or she may forthwith commit the offender to the adult correctional institutions, there to remain until the person submits to do the act which he or she was so required to do, or is discharged according to law.
(e) The committee shall, for the purpose of investigating the qualifications of the nominee or nominees, be furnished with a report compiled by the state police in conjunction with the attorney general's office indicating the determinations and findings of the state police and attorney general's office investigations concerning the background of the nominee or nominees, and the report shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
(1) Whether the nominee has ever been convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, a misdemeanor or felony in this or any other state or foreign country;
(2) Whether the nominee has ever filed a personal bankruptcy petition or an assignment for the benefit of creditors in this or any other state or foreign country; and whether the nominee has ever been a partner in, held ten percent (10%) or more of stock in, or held office in any sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation that has been involved in bankruptcy or receivership actions as a debtor or because of insolvency at the time the nominee was a partner in, held ten percent (10%) or more stock in, or held office in any such sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation;
(3) Whether the nominee has ever had a civil judgment rendered against him or her arising out of an allegation of fraud, misrepresentation, libel, slander, professional negligence, or any intentional tort in this state or any other state or foreign country;
(4) The state police, in conjunction with the attorney general's department, shall provide in their report the names and addresses of each and every source of their information.
(f) The reports set forth in this section shall be delivered to the chairperson and members of the senate judiciary committee in addition to the nominee or nominees only prior to the commencement of the public hearing. Provided, however, that if the nominee or nominees withdraw or decline the appointment prior to the public hearing, then the report or reports shall be returned to the chairperson of the judiciary committee and destroyed.
(g) The committee shall also require a financial statement to be submitted by each nominee, prior to the public hearing, to the chairperson of the senate judiciary committee, to investigate each nominee to determine his or her compliance with the provisions of chapter 14 of title 36.
(h) Any associate justice of any state court who is appointed to serve as the chief or presiding justice of that court on an interim basis shall retain his or her status as an associate justice until the appointment to chief or presiding justice is made permanent.
(i) In case a vacancy shall occur when the senate is not in session, the governor shall appoint some person from a list of three (3) to five (5) persons submitted to the governor by the commission to fill the vacancy until the senate shall next convene, when the governor shall make an appointment as provided in this section.
(P.L. 1994, ch. 42, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 97, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 334, § 2; P.L. 2007, ch. 402, § 2; P.L. 2008, ch. 91, §§ 1, 2; P.L. 2009, ch. 60, § 1; P.L. 2009, ch. 82, § 1; P.L. 2010, ch. 230, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 149, § 1; P.L. 2011, ch. 150, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 328, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 383, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 178, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 224, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 251, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 287, § 2.)