TITLE 8
Courts and Civil Procedure–Courts

CHAPTER 8-8
District Court

SECTION 8-8-8.1


§ 8-8-8.1 Administrator/clerk – Magistrate.

(a) Administrator/clerk. There shall be a district court administrator/clerk who shall be appointed by the chief judge in his or her capacity as administrative head of the court, and who shall hold office at the pleasure of the administrative judge. The administrator/clerk shall perform such duties and attend to such matters as may be assigned to the administrator/clerk by the administrative judge, other than those duties assigned to the chief clerk in § 8-8-19. Said duties may be assigned by the chief judge.

(b) Magistrate. Any person holding the position of district court administrator/clerk who is a member of the bar of Rhode Island may be appointed district court magistrate by the chief judge in his or her capacity as administrative head of the court, subject to the advice and consent of the senate. The district court magistrate shall hold said office for a term of ten (10) years and until a successor is appointed and qualified; and the magistrate shall retain whatever right he or she may have to the position of district court administrator/clerk pursuant to this section. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the appointment of the magistrate for more than one term, subject to the advice and consent of the senate. Any person holding office of district court magistrate on July 1, 1999 may continue in full authority in said position until such time as an appointment is made and the nominee qualified pursuant to this subsection.

(c) The district court magistrate shall have the power to hear and determine such matters as may be assigned to the district court magistrate by the chief judge all to the same effect as if done by a judge of the district court, including but not limited to:

(1) Matters relating to 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;

(2) Arraignments and pretrial motions in misdemeanor, petty misdemeanor, violation, and ordinance cases and initial appearances and probable cause hearings in felony cases;

(3) Bail hearings pursuant to R.I. Const., Art. I, Sec. IX and all other bail matters pursuant to chapter 13 of title 12 and the rules of criminal procedure, including but not limited to motions to modify bail, bail revocation hearings, bail forfeiture hearings, and bail source hearings;

(4) All matters relating to fugitives from justice pursuant to chapter 9 of title 12;

(5) Probation revocation hearings;

(6) All matters relating to small claims and consumer claims pursuant to chapter 16 of title 10, including any pretrial motions including motions relating to the special service of process, the entry of defaults and default judgments, the trial of such cases and the entry of judgment after such trials, and all matters relating to the enforcement of such judgments, including but not limited to the ordering of installment payments and trustee process; and

(7) Complaints for judicial review of the decision of an administrative agency pursuant to chapter 35 of title 42 by making proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition of the complaints to a judge of the court. Any party may object to any portion of the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations within ten (10) days after receipt of a copy thereof. That party shall file with the clerk of the sixth division of the district court and serve on all parties written objections which shall specifically identify the portions of the proposed findings and recommendations to which objection is made and the basis for the objection. A judge shall make a de novo determination of those portions to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate. Absent a timely objection filed in accordance with this subdivision, the proposed prevailing party shall, upon expiration of the ten (10) days following the service of the magistrate's proposed findings and recommendations, submit a proposed order for signature of the judge to whom the case has been assigned.

(d) The magistrate may be authorized:

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

(2) To do all acts 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 fined or to order him or her imprisoned for not more than seventy-two (72) hours, pending review by a judge of the 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 or other contempt of his or her authority;

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

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

(9) To issue writs of habeas corpus to bring before him or her or a judge of the court any person in jail or in prison to be examined as a witness in a suit or proceeding, civil or criminal, pending before the court, or whose presence is necessary as a party or otherwise necessary so that the ends of justice may be attained, and for no other purpose; and

(10) To issue warrants of arrest and search warrants to the same extent as an associate judge of the court.

(e) Except as otherwise indicated, a party aggrieved by an order entered by the district court magistrate shall be entitled to a review of the order, whether by appeal or otherwise, by a judge of the court. The court shall, by rules of procedure, establish procedures for review of contempt and adjudications of the magistrate.

(f) The magistrate shall be:

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

(2) Subject to all provisions of the canons of judicial ethics;

(3) Subject to all criminal laws relative to judges by virtue of §§ 11-7-1 and 11-7-2.

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

History of Section.
(P.L. 1991, ch. 44, art. 73, § 3; P.L. 1998, ch. 442, § 3; P.L. 1999, ch. 218, art. 5, § 5; P.L. 1999, ch. 311, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 452, § 2; P.L. 2007, ch. 73, art. 3, § 7; P.L. 2008, ch. 1, § 3; P.L. 2012, ch. 415, § 11.)