[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of East Greenwich as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
STATE LAW REFERENCES
Jurisdiction of District Court — See R.I.G.L. § 8-8-3.
Adjudication of traffic offenses — See R.I.G.L. § 31-41.1-1 et seq.
Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code — See R.I.G.L. § 45-24.3-1 et seq.
[Adopted 2-9-1993 by Ord. No. 590 (Secs. 2-280 to 2-285 of the 1993 Code)]
The Town Council shall appoint a Judge of Probate to serve at the pleasure of the Town Council and until a successor is appointed and qualified.
The Judge of Probate, or acting Judge of Probate, shall be an attorney at law in good standing who has been admitted to the practice of law in this state and is a practicing attorney. He need not be a resident of the Town.
Whenever the Judge of Probate Court is a party or interested in any proceeding about to be heard in his Court, or is absent or unable to perform his duties, or there is a vacancy in such office, his duties shall be temporarily performed by the Town Solicitor or any assistant Town Solicitor or, in the event no such solicitor is qualified, by such person appointed by the Town Council. The fact of any such interest, absence, inability or vacancy shall be recorded in the records of said Court.
The Town Clerk shall be the Clerk of the Probate Court.
All fees collected by the Clerk of the Probate Court shall inure to the benefit of the Town and shall be paid over to the Town Treasurer unless otherwise directed by the laws of the state.
The Judge of Probate shall receive such compensation, either on a salary or fee basis, as the Council may determine. The Judge of Probate need not be required to devote full time to the duties of his office.
[Adopted 12-14-1999 by Ord. No. 684 (Secs. 2-351 to 2-362 of the 1993 Code)]
The Judge shall be a lawyer admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the State of Rhode Island, in good standing, and shall have not less than five years of experience in the active practice of law.
The Municipal Court may issue writs or subpoenas for witnesses, compel their attendance and testimony and the production of relevant documents, and punish contempt by a fine of up to $500. Such Court shall also, upon continuance of any complaint or proceeding before it, take recognizance to the state, with surety or sureties in such sum as the Court thinks proper, with the condition to appear before such Court and make further answer to such complaint or proceeding, and in the meantime to keep the peace and be of good behavior, and in want thereof, may impose a fine of up to $500.
In accordance with R.I.G.L. § 8-18-4, if a motorist fails to appear to answer a summons before the Municipal Court, the Court may proceed pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 31-41.1-5 to enter a default judgment and determine whether the charges have been established. If the charges are not established, an order dismissing the charges shall be entered. Where a determination is made that a charge has been established, an appropriate order shall be entered, and the motorist's license and registration privileges may be ordered by the Municipal Court to be suspended by the Division of Motor Vehicles as provided by law. Said order shall be mailed to the person charged with the violation at his or her last known address.
The Town Council shall appoint a Clerk of Court to report to and be responsible to the Town Manager.
The Clerk of Court shall keep a regular docket of all cases disposed of; shall record the judgments, orders and sentences of the Court; and shall furnish certified copies thereof when required, for which copies the Clerk shall charge the same fees as does the Town Clerk. The Clerk's office shall be open to the public during such hours as the Town Manager shall determine.
Nothing contained herein shall prohibit any Town employee from also becoming the Clerk of Court.
The Municipal Court shall be considered to be in session at such times and at such place or places in the Town as the Municipal Court Judge holding same shall appoint.
The Town Council hereby confers on the Municipal Court concurrent jurisdiction to hear and determine causes involving violations of:
Any ordinance of the Town;
Minimum housing ordinances, including any violation of Title 45, Chapter 24.3 of the General Laws of Rhode Island, entitled "The Rhode Island Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code." However, any defendant found guilty of any offense, excluding violations of the Minimum Housing Ordinance or said Chapter 24.3, may, within seven days of such conviction, file an appeal from such conviction to the Kent County Superior Court and be entitled in said Superior Court to a trial de novo. Further, any defendant found guilty of any violation of a Minimum Housing Ordinance or of Chapter 24.3 may, within seven days of conviction, file an appeal of said conviction to the District Court and be entitled to a trial de novo in accordance with §§ 8-8-3(a)(4) and 8-8-3.2 of the General Laws of Rhode Island; and
Traffic and motor vehicle laws set out in the General Laws of Rhode Island, § 8-18-4.
With respect to violations of either municipal ordinances dealing with minimum housing or § 45-24.3-1 et seq. of the General Laws of Rhode Island dealing with housing maintenance and occupancy, the Town Council hereby confers upon the Municipal Court, in furtherance of the jurisdiction mentioned in Subsection A hereof, the power to proceed according to equity:
The Judge of the Municipal Court may prescribe and vary the form of all complaints, warrants, writs or other forms so as to make the same consistent with the organization, style and jurisdiction of such Court. Such complaints, warrants, writs and other forms shall have the same effect, validity and extent, and shall be served, obeyed, enforced and returned in the same manner and by the same officers, as if issued from the District Courts, and they may be served by any Constable of the Town who is authorized to serve process in civil or criminal cases.
Costs taxed by the Municipal Court for traffic offenses shall be as set forth in R.I.G.L. § 8-18-4. Costs for other offenses shall be the same as those taxed by a Rhode Island District Court for misdemeanor violations under the General Laws of Rhode Island. The payment of such costs shall be a part of the sentence to the extent it would be in said District Courts.
All payments shall be deposited to the Town of East Greenwich in the general fund.
In the case of sickness, absence or other disability or ineligibility of the Municipal Court Judge, the Town Council may, by resolution, appoint an Acting Municipal Court Judge for the term of such sickness, absence, disability or ineligibility at such salary as Council may determine. An Acting Judge shall perform all duties of the Municipal Court Judge, and in the performance of such duties shall have the same authority as the Municipal Court Judge.
The Municipal Court shall be administered by the Town Manager. All matters of administration shall be the sole responsibility and in the sole jurisdiction of the Town Manager.