[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Council of the Town of Coventry 11-12-1991 by Ord. No. 9-91-0181 as Ch. 10 of the 1991 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 45-2-24, there is established a Municipal Court in the Town.
The provisions of the Charter shall apply to the Municipal Court to the extent that such provisions are not inconsistent with this chapter. To the extent that such provisions are inconsistent with this chapter, the provisions of this chapter shall control.
The Municipal Court shall be composed of one Judge appointed by the Town Council. The Judge shall serve until his successor is duly appointed.
The term of appointment for the Judge shall be four years, commencing January 1 of the year of appointment.
The Judge shall be a lawyer admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state, in good standing. The Judge shall have not less than two years' experience in the active practice of law.
Nothing in this section shall preclude the appointment of the Probate Judge of the Town as Judge of the Municipal Court.
The Judge of the Municipal Court shall appoint a Clerk of the Court, who shall be a qualified elector of the Town.
The Clerk of the Municipal Court shall serve at the pleasure of the Judge.
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 are by law allowed to clerks of the Superior Court. The Clerk's office shall be open to the public during such hours as the Court shall determine.
The compensation of the Judge of the Municipal Court shall be $14,560 per year.
The compensation of the Clerk of the Municipal Court shall be $9,048 per year.
The compensation of the Judge and Clerk may be increased by resolution of the Town Council.
In 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 of the Municipal Court Judge, at such salary as the Town Council may determine. An Acting Municipal Judge shall perform all duties of the Municipal Court Judge, and in the performance of such duties shall have the same effect as if the duties were performed by the Municipal Court Judge.
The Municipal Court shall have a seal which shall contain such words and device as the Town Council shall adopt and approve.
The Municipal Court shall be considered to be in session at all times, at such place in the Town as the Court or the justice holding the sessions shall appoint, subject, however, to the provision that usual court sessions shall be held on one Saturday morning and one weekday evening each month, to be determined by the Judge with the approval of the Town Council.
Costs taxed by the Municipal Court shall be the same as those taxed by district courts, and the payment of the costs shall be a part of the sentence to the extent they would be in district courts unless otherwise provided by resolution of the Town Council.
All payments shall be deposited in the general treasury of the Town.
The Town Council hereby confers on the Municipal Court original jurisdiction to hear and determine causes involving violations of:
Any defendant found guilty of any offense within the jurisdiction of the Court, excluding violations of the minimum housing ordinances or R.I.G.L. § 45-24.3-1 et seq., may, within seven days of such conviction, file an appeal from the conviction to the County Superior Court and be entitled in the latter court to a trial de novo. Any defendant found guilty of any violation of a minimum housing ordinance or of R.I.G.L. § 45-24.3-1 et seq. may, within seven days of such conviction, file an appeal from the conviction to the third 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.
With respect to violations of either municipal ordinances dealing with minimum housing or R.I.G.L. § 45-24.3-1 et seq. dealing with housing maintenance and occupancy, the Town Council hereby confers upon the Municipal Court, in furtherance of the jurisdiction conferred by this section, the power to proceed according to equity to:
The Judge or the Municipal Court Clerk shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations.
It shall be lawful for the Judge of the Municipal Court to prescribe and vary the form of all complaints, warrants, writs or other process so as to make such process consistent with the organization, style and jurisdiction of the Municipal Court. 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.
The Municipal 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, and may take recognizance to the state with surety in such sum as the Court shall think proper, with 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 party to the state adult corrections institution until such recognizance is given or the party is lawfully discharged therefrom.
The Municipal Court may impose a penalty as authorized under Chapter 1, General Provisions, § 1–2, of the Code of the Town of Coventry, and/or as authorized by the Rhode Island General Laws, and shall be empowered to punish persons for contempt.