TITLE 8
Courts and Civil Procedure–Courts

CHAPTER 8-2
Superior Court

SECTION 8-2-39


§ 8-2-39 General magistrate – Appointment, duties and powers.

(a) There is hereby created within the superior court the position of general magistrate who shall be appointed by the presiding justice of the superior court, with the advice and consent of the senate, for a term of ten (10) years and until a successor is appointed and qualified. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the assignment of the general magistrate to more than one such term, subject to the advice and consent of the senate. The person appointed to serve as general magistrate shall be a member of the bar of Rhode Island. The powers and duties of the general magistrate shall be prescribed in the order appointing him or her.

(b)(1) The general magistrate shall assist the court in:

(i) The determination of, monitoring, collection, and payment of restitution and court ordered fines, fees, and costs or the ordering of community service in lieu of or in addition to the payment of restitution, fines, fees, and costs, consistent with other provisions of the general laws;

(ii) The determination and payment of claims under the violent crimes indemnity fund for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1972, chapter 25 of title 12;

(iii) The determination and payment of claims from the Criminal Royalties Distribution Act of 1983, chapter 25.1 of title 12; and

(iv) Such other matters as the presiding justice of the superior court determines are necessary.

(2) The chief justice of the supreme court, with the consent of the presiding justice and, if applicable, the chief judge of a particular court, may assign the general magistrate to serve as a magistrate in any court of the unified system. When the general magistrate is so assigned he or she shall be vested, authorized, and empowered with all the powers belonging to the magistrate position to which he or she is specially assigned.

(c) The general magistrate will be empowered to hear all motions, pretrial conferences, arraignments, probable cause hearings, bail hearings, bail and probation revocation hearings, and to review all such matters including, but not limited to the above, and to modify the terms and conditions of probation and other court-ordered monetary payments including, but not limited to, the extension of time for probation and court-ordered monetary payments as provided by law. The general magistrate shall have the power to take testimony in connection with all matters set forth herein.

(d) The general magistrate may be authorized:

(1) To regulate all proceedings before him or her;

(2) To do all acts and take all measures necessary or proper for the efficient performance of his or her duties;

(3) To require the production before him or her of books, papers, vouchers, documents, and writings;

(4) To rule upon the admissibility of evidence;

(5) To issue subpoenas for the appearance of witnesses, to put witnesses on oath, to examine them, and to call parties to the proceeding and examine them upon oath;

(6) To adjudicate a person in contempt and to order him or her imprisoned for not more than seventy-two (72) hours, pending review by a justice of the relevant court, for failure to appear in response to a summons or for refusal to answer questions or produce evidence or for behavior disrupting a proceeding;

(7) To adjudicate a party in contempt and to order him or her imprisoned for not more than seventy-two (72) hours, pending review by a justice of the relevant court, for failure to comply with a pending order to provide payment or to perform any other act; and

(8) To issue a capias and/or body attachment upon the failure of a party or witness to appear after having been properly served and, should the court not be in session, the person apprehended may be detained at the adult correctional institutions, if an adult, or at the Rhode Island training school for youth, if a child, until the next session of the court.

(e) A party aggrieved by an order entered by the general magistrate shall be entitled to a review of the order by a justice of the relevant court. Unless otherwise provided in the rules of procedure of the court, such review shall be on the record and appellate in nature. The court shall, by rules of procedure, establish procedures for review of orders entered by a general magistrate, and for enforcement of contempt adjudications of a general magistrate.

(f) Final orders of the superior or family court entered in a proceeding to review an order of a general magistrate may be appealed to the supreme court. Final orders of the district court entered in a proceeding to review an order of the general magistrate may be appealed to the superior court.

(g) The general magistrate shall:

(1) Receive all credits and retirement allowances as afforded justices under chapter 3 of this title and any other applicable law, including without limitation, § 8-3-16;

(2) Receive a salary equivalent to that of a district court judge;

(3) Be governed by the commission on judicial tenure and discipline, chapter 16, of this title, in the same manner as justices and judges;

(4) Be subject to all provisions of the canons of judicial ethics or code of judicial conduct;

(5) Be subject to all criminal laws relative to judges by virtue of §§ 11-7-1 and 11-7-2.

(h) The provisions of this section shall be afforded liberal construction.

(i) The presiding justice of the superior court shall initially appoint such support staff as may be necessary, relating to preparation, investigation, and implementation of the general magistrate's functions. Effective November 15, 1993, the support staff shall be placed under the supervision and management of the superior court, and new appointments or personnel changes in the support staff shall be subject to the directions and approval of the superior court, consistent with any applicable collective bargaining agreements. The general magistrate shall have the power and authority to issue subpoenas and to compel the attendance of witnesses at any place within the state, to administer oaths and to require testimony under oath. The general magistrate, or his or her designee, may serve his or her process or notices in a manner provided for the service of process and notice in civil or criminal actions in accordance with the rules of court.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1988, ch. 129, art. 25, § 1; P.L.1991, ch. 44, art. 73, § 1; P.L. 1994, ch. 348, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 442, § 1; P.L. 2007, ch. 73, art. 3, § 6; P.L. 2012, ch. 415, § 9.)