Town of Portsmouth, RI
Newport County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Portsmouth 8-26-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-08-26B. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 45-2-62, there is established a Municipal Court in the Town of Portsmouth which shall assume jurisdiction of the subject matters set forth in § 12-7 hereof on the date the Municipal Court Judge is appointed by the Town Council.
A. 
The Court shall be composed of one Judge appointed by the Town Council. The Judge shall serve until his or her successor shall be duly appointed.
B. 
The initial appointment, if made, shall terminate on December 31, 2014. Each subsequent appointment, if made, shall be for a term of two years commencing on January 1 and ending on December 31 of the even-numbered years. A Judge shall hold office until his or her successor is appointed and qualified.
C. 
The Judge shall be a lawyer admitted to practice law in this state by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, shall be in good standing, and shall have not less than five years' experience in the active practice of law.
The Court shall have the power to issue writs or summonses for witnesses, and compel their attendance, and to punish for contempt by fine or imprisonment. The Court may also issue writs of habeas corpus ad testificandum, upon continuance of any complaint or proceeding before it, may take recognizance to the state, with surety or sureties in such sum as the Court shall deem proper, with the condition to appear before the Court and make further answer to such complaint or proceeding, and in the meantime to keep the peace, and, in want thereof, may commit the same to the state adult correctional institutions until such recognizance shall be given or the parties lawfully discharged therefrom.
A. 
The Town Council shall appoint a Clerk of the Court who shall serve at the pleasure of the Council.
B. 
The Clerk of the 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 are by law allowed to Clerks of the Superior Court. The Clerk shall keep the office open to the public during such hours as the Court shall determine and shall also be responsible for the administration of the Court.
C. 
Nothing contained herein shall prohibit the Police Department or the Town administration from providing the secretarial and administrative assistance necessary for the Court to perform its duties and responsibilities.
D. 
Nothing contained herein shall prohibit the Town Clerk from also becoming the Municipal Court Clerk.
A. 
The Municipal Court shall have a seal, which shall contain such words and device as the Town Council shall adopt and approve.
B. 
The Judge and the Municipal Court Clerk shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations.
The Municipal Court shall be considered to be in session at all times and at such place or places in the Town as the Court, or Judge holding same, shall appoint.
A. 
The Town Council hereby confers on the Municipal Court original jurisdiction to hear and determine causes involving violation of:
(1) 
The Portsmouth Zoning Ordinance;
(2) 
Any other Town ordinance;
(3) 
Minimum housing ordinances, including any violation of R.I.G.L. Title 45, Chapter 24.3, the State Housing, Maintenance, and Occupancy Code;
B. 
Provided, however, that:
(1) 
Any defendant found guilty of any offense, excluding violations of minimum housing ordinances or R.I.G.L. Chapter 45-24.3,[1] may, within seven days of such conviction, file an appeal from the conviction to the Superior Court and be entitled in the latter Court to a trial de novo; and
[1]
Editor's Note: See Title 45, Chapter 24.3, of the Rhode Island General Laws.
(2) 
Any defendant found guilty of any violation of a minimum housing ordinance, or of R.I.G.L. Chapter 45-24.3, within seven days of such conviction, file an appeal from the conviction to the First Division of the District Court and be entitled to a trial de novo in accordance with R.I.G.L. §§ 8-8-3(a)(4) and 8-8-3.2.
C. 
With respect to violations of municipal ordinances dealing with minimum housing, or R.I.G.L. Chapter 45-24.3, the Town Council hereby confers upon the Municipal Court, in furtherance of the aforementioned jurisdiction, the power to proceed, according to equity:
(1) 
To restrain, prevent, enjoin, abate, or correct a violation;
(2) 
To order the repair, vacating, or demolition of any dwelling existing in violation; or
(3) 
To otherwise compel compliance with all provisions of ordinances and statutes.
The Municipal Court may impose a sentence not to exceed 30 days in jail and impose a fine not in excess of $1,000 per violation, or both, and shall be empowered to punish persons for contempt.
It shall be lawful for the Judge of the Court to prescribe and vary the form of all complaints, warrants, writs, or other process as to make the same consistent with the organization, style, and jurisdiction of the Court, and such complaints, warrants, writs, and other process shall have the same effect, validity, and extent, and 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 constables of the Town who are authorized to serve process in civil or criminal cases.
A. 
The Municipal Court shall be authorized to assess court costs in the amount of $50 for each offense charged, and the payment of such costs shall be a part of the sentence.
B. 
All payments shall be deposited in the general treasury of the Town.
C. 
The costs incurred by the Town in securing a police officer's presence, upon the request of the defendant, shall be charged to the defendant in the event he or she should fail to appear.
A. 
The compensation of the Judge of the Municipal Court shall be set by the Town Council by resolution.
B. 
The compensation of the Clerk of the Municipal Court shall be set by the Town Council by resolution.
A. 
In cases of sickness, absence, or other disability or ineligibility of the Municipal Court Judge or Clerk which shall be less than 45 days, the Town Council may appoint an Acting Judge or an Acting Clerk, respectively, at the same compensation or at such salary as the Town Council may determine for the term of such sickness, absence, disability or ineligibility of the Judge or Clerk. An Acting Municipal Court Judge or Acting Municipal Court Clerk shall perform all duties of the Municipal Court Judge or Municipal Court Clerk, respectively.
B. 
In case of a prolonged sickness, absence, or other disability or ineligibility of the Municipal Court Judge or the Municipal Court Clerk that shall be in excess of 14 days, the Town Council may, by resolution, appoint an Acting Municipal Judge or an Acting Municipal Court Clerk, respectively, for the term of such sickness, absence, disability or ineligibility of the Municipal Court Judge or the Municipal Court Clerk, respectively, at the same compensation or at such salary as the Town Council may determine. An Acting Municipal Court Judge or Acting Municipal Court Clerk shall perform all duties of the Municipal Court Judge or Municipal Court Clerk, respectively, and in the performance of those duties shall have the same effect as if performed by the Municipal Court Judge or Municipal Court Clerk, respectively.
C. 
In case the Municipal Court Judge must recuse due to a conflict in a specific case, the Portsmouth Probate Court Judge shall sit as the Municipal Court Judge.