Rhode Island Supreme Court
|Rhode Island Supreme Court|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt.|
|Term:||Life terms; no mandated retirement|
- 1 Justices
- 2 Jurisdiction
- 3 Judicial selection
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable decisions
- 6 Ethics
- 7 History of the court
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The Rhode Island Supreme Court, founded in 1747, is the court of last resort for the state of Rhode Island.
The court consists of a chief justice and four justices. While in other courts, justices are required to retire at a mandated age, the same is not true for the Rhode Island Supreme Court. The justices of the Rhode Island Supreme Court hold office for life.The current justices of the court are:
|Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg||1990 - present||Lincoln C. Almond|
|Justice Francis Flaherty||2003-Present||Gov. Donald Carcieri|
|Chief Justice Paul Suttell||1990 - present||Donald Carcieri|
|Justice William Robinson (Rhode Island)||2004 - present||Donald Carcieri|
|Justice Gilbert V. Indeglia||2000-Present||Gov. Donald Carcieri|
The Rhode Island Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over legal and constitutional questions. Additionally, the court must regulate admission to the state Bar, and determines disciplinary issues as well.
Selection of supreme court justices begins with the Judicial Nominating Commission. The commission submits three to five names to the Governor of Rhode Island, and upon receiving the names, the governor selects and appoints one. The appointed justice must then be approved by both the state senate and house of representatives.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Rhode Island was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Rhode Island received a score of -0.50. Based on the justices selected, Rhode Island was the 8th most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
Removal of justices
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Rhode Island earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
History of the court
In 1747, the Rhode Island General Assembly authorized the creation of the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, and General Gaol Delivery, consisting of one chief justice and four associates, all serving one-year terms. Most of the judges during the 18th century were laymen, merchants or farmers and did not possess formal legal training, and therefore the court did not explicitly follow British Common Law. Parties, however, could still appeal to the British monarch, English courts or General Assembly. In 1747, the Assembly appointed the first Chief Justice, Gideon Cowell, who was not a lawyer and the second, Joshua Babcock, a Yale educated physician. Stephen Hopkins served as Chief Justice from 1747 to 1755 and was the first trained lawyer to serve in this position. In 1798, the Assembly renamed the Superior Court "The Supreme Judicial Court," and in 1843, "The Supreme Court."
- Peleg Arnold, Delegate to the Continental Congress
- Stephen Hopkins, Signatory of the Declaration of Independence, Governor of Rhode Island
- David Howell (jurist), Delegate to the Continental Congress, federalist leader, U.S. District Judge
- William West, 1787-1789, American Revolution general, Deputy Governor, anti-federalist rebellion leader
- News: Rhode Island Supreme Court rules on union arbitration, February 15, 2012
- News: Rhode Island attorney sues Supreme Court, December 28, 2011
- News: Convicted killer Craig Price appeals contempt charge to Rhode Island Supreme Court, November 8, 2011
- News: Rhode Island Representative Leo Medina charged with felony misappropriation of funds, September 12, 2011
- News: Rhode Island Supreme Court rules in favor of Deep Water, August 29, 2011
- News: Attorneys argue procedure that led to "Tent City" residents eviction to Rhode Island Supreme Court, June 13, 2011
- News: Summary judgment requested over pension cuts, May 31, 2011
- Rhode Island Supreme Court Official Site
- Irving Berdine Richman, Rhode Island: A Study in Separatism, (Houghton, Mifflic & Co, Rhode Island: 1907), 191.
- Thomas Durfee, Gleanings from the Judicial History of Rhode Island, (Providence: Sidney S. Rider, 1883), p. 164
- Amasa M. Eaton, The Development of the Judicial System in Rhode Island, Yale Law Journal14 (Jan. 1905), 148-170.
- John T. Farrell, The Early History of Rhode Island’s Court System, Rhode Island History 9 (July 1950), 65-71; 9 (Oct. 1950), 103-117; 10 (Jan. 1951), 14-25
- Link to article describing various RI Court primary sources
- Gail I. Winson, "Researching the Laws of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations: From Lively Experiment1to Statehoodby," (Roger Williams School of Law)Article link.
- Rhode Island Supreme Court Selection and Responsibilities of Justices (dead link)
- Wikipedia: Rhode Island Supreme Court
- Constitution of Rhode Island
- Providence Business News, "Suttell confirmed as new chief justice," June 25, 2009
- Rhode Island Judiciary, "About the Supreme Court," accessed February 2, 2015
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Rhode Island Judiciary, “Annual Reports”
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Rhode Island Judicature Book
- Rhode Island Judicature Book
|Former||Frank Williams •|