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Rhode Island Court Records

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What are Rhode Island Bankruptcy Records? 

Bankruptcy is a federal process that allows debtors, which may be individuals, couples, partnerships, organizations, or other entities, to find relief from debt or financial obligations that the debtors can no longer meet. Bankruptcy allows debtors to repay creditors through asset liquidation or reorganization and payment plans. The Federal Bankruptcy Code allows different types of bankruptcy cases. A debtor may file the type of case that best addresses the debtor’s needs and income level. Bankruptcy records contain all documents generated in the course of or information about bankruptcy cases. State courts cannot hear bankruptcy cases because bankruptcy is a federal process. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. Each district in the United States has a bankruptcy court. Rhode Island has only one federal bankruptcy court, called the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Rhode Island. The court has just one location in Providence.

The US Bankruptcy Court Clerk maintains bankruptcy court records. Interested parties may submit records requests to the Clerk in person, through email, or over the phone. The US Bankruptcy Court in Rhode Island also makes bankruptcy records available online and through automated voice systems. Some third-party websites host public bankruptcy information. Interested parties may obtain available information from the websites. Whatever the case, persons seeking to find Rhode Island court records relating to bankruptcy hearings must furnish the custodian with all information needed to facilitate the record search.

What do Rhode Island Bankruptcy Records Contain? 

Bankruptcy records in Rhode Island contain documents generated in the course of a bankruptcy case, including pre-filing and post-filing processes. Before filing for a bankruptcy case, a petitioner must complete certain steps such as means-testing, and credit counseling. Bankruptcy records contain information about these processes. Records of post-filing processes, such as debtor education courses are also included in bankruptcy records. Other documents in bankruptcy records include transcripts, forms, petitions, notices, course completion certificates, and financial information. There are different types of bankruptcy cases, and each type may involve different forms or documentation. Typically, a requester can find the following in bankruptcy records:

  • Bankruptcy case number
  • Filing date
  • Case disposition
  • Debtor’s name and address
  • A comprehensive list of creditors and amount owed to each creditor
  • Debtor’s financial information, including bank statements and income statements
  • Debtor’s employment and income information
  • A list of the debtor’s assets and liabilities, including real property
  • The assigned trustee
  • Judge’s name

Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information? 

Bankruptcy records are public information. Interested parties may request bankruptcy records from the US Bankruptcy Court Clerk or through other channels that the court provides. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), documents that any government agency creates or maintains are public information. This is to encourage transparent governance practices and to keep the public informed. There are some exceptions to the FOIA act; however, bankruptcy does not fall under any of the exemptions. Sealed bankruptcy records are inaccessible to the public. Additionally, confidential information in bankruptcy records, such as social security numbers or bank account numbers, is not public information.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in. 

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Get Rhode Island Bankruptcy Records 

The US Bankruptcy Court Clerk in Rhode Island maintains bankruptcy records. Interested parties may obtain bankruptcy records from the public access terminals at the clerk’s office, which is located at:

US Bankruptcy Court

District of Rhode Island

380 Westminster Street,

6th Floor

Providence, RI 02903

Requesting parties can get bankruptcy records over the phone by calling (401) 626-3100 or through the Automated Voice Information System (VCIS). To use the automated system, users must have the bankruptcy case number, the debtor’s full name, social security number, or taxpayer-identification number. The user must also have a touch-tone phone. The VCIS provides limited bankruptcy case information, including:

  • 341(a) meeting date, time, and location
  • Debtor's attorney's name and phone number
  • Assigned Judge's name
  • Case status
  • Trustee's name
  • Case chapter
  • Case disposition
  • Discharge and closing dates

US bankruptcy courts provide bankruptcy records through PACER. Persons interested in obtaining bankruptcy records through the system must register for an account. Electronic access to court records is available at $0.10 per page. For users who do not exceed $30 in a quarter, the fee will be waived. Persons who cannot access or afford to use PACER may send record requests to the Clerk’s office by email at rib_helpdesk@rib.uscourts.gov

How do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in Rhode Island?

For cases filed from 1998 till date, interested parties may find out the status through PACER. Users must register to use the system and pay $0.10 for every search page. PACER usage is billed quarterly, and only users who spend more than $30 will be charged. Requesting parties can also obtain case status information by emailing the Bankruptcy Clerk’s office at rib_helpdesk@rib.uscourts.gov. Electronic copies of bankruptcy records are available by email at no charge. The Clerk’s office provides record search assistance or case status information over the phone; requesting parties may call 401-626-3100. The US Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s office has public access terminals. Interested parties may obtain case status information from these terminals and print copies at $0.10 per page. The court’s CM/ECF system also provides case status information to registered users.

For cases filed before 1998, interested parties may obtain status information directly from the National Archives (NARA) online or by mail. Requesting parties can also request bankruptcy records from NARA with the court’s assistance. There are no electronic copies of records filed before 1998, so NARA sends scanned copies of such records. The court may request a SmartScan service from NARA on behalf of the requesting party. However, SmartScan is only available for a maximum of 100 pages. Electronic retrieval of SmartScan documents costs $10. If the number of pages exceeds 100, the requesting party must have NARA ship the case record to the court. When the records arrive at the court, the requesting party must view the record within 30 days. After 30 days, the court will return the record to NARA.

Can a Bankruptcy be Expunged in Rhode Island? 

Bankruptcy is a federal process guided by federal laws and therefore, state record laws do not apply. The Federal Bankruptcy code does not provide for expungement, so it is not possible to expunge bankruptcy records in Rhode Island. However, it is possible to seal bankruptcy records. While expungement completely erases a record, sealing restricts public access to the record. Record holders may petition the court to seal a bankruptcy record. If the court grants the petition, only authorized persons, such as persons named on the record and legal representatives of such persons may access the record.

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