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Rhode Island Court Records

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What Are Rhode Island Specialty Courts?

Rhode Island specialty courts provide an alternative method of administering justice to eligible persons in the state. Also known as problem-solving courts, specialty courts hear and determine cases to solve issues that make certain persons susceptible to crime. The courts also help treat offenders, directly tackle their problems, and reduce the likelihood of engaging in any further crime.

Veterans Treatment Court 

The Rhode Island Judiciary operates a Veterans Treatment Court. This specialty court assists combat veterans who have been diagnosed with trauma-related disorders. Veterans Treatment Courts seek to provide rehabilitative alternatives for qualified veterans as an alternative to incarceration or other traditional punitive measures. The Veterans Treatment Court operates under the Rhode Island District Court.

The Rhode Island Veterans Treatment Court caters to veterans regardless of the conditions or behavioral problems suffered. While many veterans return to the state and smoothly reintegrate themselves into society, some others require assistance. The Veterans Treatment Court handles cases of substance abuse, alcohol, mental illness, and other behavioral problems. The court regularly seeks collaborations to address a growing number of persons in need of assistance, as one out of three returning veterans displays varying forms of mental illness.

The Veterans Treatment Court’s goals include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Reduce recidivism
  • Help veterans with productive reintegration into society
  • Encourage accountability among participants
  • Address and treat participants’ behavioral issues
  • Create a balance between participants’ needs and expectations of normal life using carefully designed treatment and rehabilitation
  • Ensure compliance with treatment conditions ordered by the court
  • Detect and address unseen injuries, effects of combat, or other conditions resulting from active service

The Rhode Island Veterans Treatment Court will only accept persons that meet the following conditions:

  • Must be peaceful and generally of good behavior
  • Must be resident in Rhode Island 
  • Must waive the thirty-day rule if answerable to driving under the influence (DUI) charges
  • Must provide relevant proof of military service and be diagnosed with PTSD or other trauma-related disorder
  • Must strictly comply with the terms of the court program, including prescribed medications, treatment programs, and other recommendations
  • Must be willing to strictly adhere to the discharge plan after release from the treatment program

Note that the treatment programs participants follow may differ as the court assesses cases individually. The program considers the following factors:

  • Nature of the person’s charge
  • Facts of the case
  • Participant’s criminal history
  • Nature of diagnosis
  • Risk to public safety

Most participants of the Veterans Treatment Court are referred by law enforcement agencies, defense attorneys, family, friends, prosecutors, or the Rhode Island Judiciary. The court operates a review panel consisting of several members, including city solicitors, court clinicians, law enforcement agencies, the defense community, and other members as may be decided by the court. If the review panel accepts the case, all parties must sign an agreement. Note that during the program, the clinician will send regular status reports to the court.

All participants must personally attend court reviews as scheduled. Initially, these reviews take place at least twice every month. However, reviews may be more frequent or as the court deems fit. Regardless of the participant’s progress, reviews may not happen less frequently than two-month intervals.

After successfully completing the program, the review panel will evaluate the case and recommend a disposition to the court. However, if the participant does not fully comply with the program, the review panel may recommend a termination, and the court may return the case to its docket for continued prosecution outside of the treatment program.

Persons interested in visiting the Veterans Treatment Court for hearings or court records may contact the court. Interested persons may send written requests which contain all known information about the desired records. However, note that available information may be limited. 

Anyone may contact or visit the court using the following information:

Veterans Treatment Court

Noel Judicial Complex

222 Quaker Lane

Warwick, RI 02886–0107

Phone: (401) 458–5106

Email: vetscourt@courts.ri.gov

Drug Court 

The Rhode Island Judiciary also operates a Drug Court. Like the Veterans Treatment Court, the Drug Court is a problem-solving court that uses judicial powers to create a therapeutic program for persons with substance abuse issues. The Drug Court seeks to rehabilitate these persons, encourage accountability, and also reduce their alcohol or substance dependence to the barest minimum. This program is offered as an alternative to incarceration.

Drug Courts also work to reintegrate these persons into the society. These courts carry out their functions using a team of experts in the criminal justice system and persons who are knowledgeable about substance abuse treatment. This process also seeks to modify the offender’s behavior and enhance their quality of life.

The Drug Court operates through a team which comprises the following:

  • Drug Court coordinator
  • Defense attorney
  • Prosecutor
  • Probation counselor
  • Case care coordinator

In many cases, a Rhode Island Attorney General representative is assigned to the Drug Court from the Attorney General’s Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit. The administrative judge of the Superior Court is responsible for the Drug Court program. All persons accepted into a Drug Court program must meet the following requirements:

  • Adult resident in Rhode Island
  • Has a history of alcohol or substance use, abuse, or dependency
  • Charged with an alcohol or substance abuse offense, or a non-violent offense with a history of alcohol or substance use, abuse, or dependency
  • Must not have any previous or current adjudication which involves a violent crime
  • Must willingly agree to enter a nolo contendere plea
  • Must voluntarily agree to follow all guidelines, terms, and conditions set by the Drug Court

After a referral, the Drug Court conducts an assessment to determine if the prospective participant qualifies for the program. If the court team approves, a substance abuse treatment provider, will create a treatment plan specific to the offender. Throughout the program, the treatment provider and the Drug Court will collaborate and monitor the person’s progress or lack thereof. Note that before the program begins, the participant must sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

To ensure compliance with the program’s requirements, the Drug Court subjects participants to random drug screenings that take place weekly. After 12 months of periodic reviews, the court may allow the participant to pass out of the program if other conditions are met. These persons may then have their charges dismissed and their court records sealed or expunged.

Note that during the program, only the Drug Court team may access a participant’s case file. After the program, information accessible may still be significantly restricted.

Drug Courts operate under the authority of the Superior Court. Persons interested in accessing Drug Court records for various reasons may do so by contacting the state’s Superior Courts using the information below:

Providence and Bristol County Superior Court

Licht Judicial Complex

250 Benefit Street

Providence, RI 02903

Phone: (401) 222–3250

Washington County Superior Court

McGrath Judicial Complex

4800 Tower Hill Road

Wakefield, RI 02879

Phone: (401) 782–4121

Kent County Superior Court

Noel Judicial Complex

222 Quaker Lane

Warwick, RI 02886

Phone: (401) 822–6900

Newport County Superior Court

Murray Judicial Complex

45 Washington Square

Newport, RI 02840

Phone: (401) 841–8330

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Rhode Island Specialty Court