Rhode Island Supreme Court Decisions

Founded in 1747, the Rhode Island Supreme Court holds jurisdiction over appeals that involve any legal or constitutional questions. It also oversees the practice of law in Rhode Island, including admission to the state bar and discipline for attorneys and judges who engage in misconduct. Five justices serve on the Rhode Island Supreme Court, and their tenure lasts for life. This is similar to federal judges but different from most justices on state supreme courts. Rhode Island does not impose a mandatory retirement age on its judges. In 2012, a Stanford University study found that the Rhode Island Supreme Court was the eighth-most liberal state supreme court in the U.S.

When a vacancy arises on the Court, the Judicial Nominating Commission must develop a list of three to five candidates. It will present that list to the Governor of Rhode Island, who will appoint one of the candidates. Any appointments are subject to the approval of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and the Rhode Island Senate. A justice may face removal only if they are impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted in a trial in the Senate.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has decided several cases that have influenced the evolution of key legal principles. For example, a 1786 decision on the validity of paper currency found that the actions of the legislature were unconstitutional. This helped lay the foundation for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that courts have the authority to strike down legislative actions on constitutional grounds. For another example, a 1974 decision shaped the development of contract law by ruling that a service contract does not require additional consideration to be modified. In 1995, the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued a decision in a tort case that set out an influential definition of battery.

Browse Opinions From the Rhode Island Supreme Court

Recent Decisions From the Rhode Island Supreme Court
Johnston Equities Associates, LP v. Town of Johnston  
Date: July 1, 2022
Docket Numbers: 20-150, 20-224

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court in favor of Plaintiffs, Johnston Equities Associates, LP and Stay Away From the Cans, LLC on their trespass claim against…

West Warwick Housing Authority v. R.I. Council 94  
Date: July 1, 2022
Docket Number: 20-21

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendant-union and denying Plaintiff's motion to vacate an arbitration award, granting Defendant's motion to confirm the award, and awarding…

Anton v. Houze  
Date: July 1, 2022
Docket Number: 20-234

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting declaratory and injunctive relief in favor of Plaintiffs and denying declaratory and injunctive relief requested in a counterclaim filed by…

State v. Jimenez  
Date: June 29, 2022
Docket Number: 19-68

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting and committing Defendant for one count of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree child abuse, holding that there was no prejudicial…

Suncar v. Jordan Realty  
Date: June 29, 2022
Docket Number: 21-57

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the final judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendants - Jordan Realty and Smart Homes, LLC - and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that his due process rights were violated…

Town of North Providence v. Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 13  
Date: June 29, 2022
Docket Number: 21-58

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court in favor of Defendant, the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 13 (the Union), in which the Court denied the Town of North Providence's petition to vacate an…

Town of Coventry v. Forsons Realty LLC  
Date: June 23, 2022
Docket Number: 20-64

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the superior court entering final judgment in favor of Defendants - Forsons Realty, LLC, Ferrara Mechanical Services Inc., and Daniel Ferrara - and dismissing the complaint brought…

Peter Scotti & Associates, Inc. v. Yurdin  
Date: June 23, 2022
Docket Number: 21-51

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying and dismissing all claims in Plaintiffs' complaint challenging a contested amendment to the City of Providence Zoning Ordinance that would allow the…

Ricci v. R.I. Commerce Corp.  
Date: June 21, 2022
Docket Number: 21-140

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the order of the superior court granting declaratory and injunctive relief in favor of Plaintiff in this action brought under the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of…

In re Narragansett Electric Co.  
Date: June 17, 2022
Docket Number: 18-40

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the Energy Facility Siting Board (the board or EFSB) concerning the relocation of power lines across the Providence and Seekonk Rivers, holding that Petitioners had standing and…

Andrade v. Westlo Management LLC  
Date: June 17, 2022
Docket Number: 20-112

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court quashed the portion of the superior court order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs as to liability against Westlo Management, LLC on counts one, two, three, and seven of…

State v. Kenner  
Date: June 17, 2022
Docket Number: 21-101

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the superior court finding Defendant to be in violation of the terms of his probation and sentencing him to serve portions of previously imposed suspended sentences, holding…

In re Jae'La G.  
Date: June 17, 2022
Docket Number: 21-23

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the decree of the family court terminating Father's parental rights to his two children pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 15-7-7(a)(3), holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion. On…

State v. Jilling  
Date: June 16, 2022
Docket Number: 20-200

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing several counts of the criminal information against Defendants alleging accessing a computer system for fraudulent purposes and conspiracy, holding…

In re Nolan V-S  
Date: June 15, 2022
Docket Number: 21-2

Justia Opinion Summary: The Supreme Court vacated the decrees of the family court denying the Department of Children, Youth, and Families' (DCYF) petition to terminate the parental rights of Parents to their child, holding that the trial…

The opinions published on Justia State Caselaw are sourced from individual state court sites. These court opinions may not be the official published versions, and you should check your local court rules before citing to them. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site, or the information linked to on the state site.