Title 38
Public Records

Chapter 2
Access to Public Records

R.I. Gen. Laws § 38-2-9

§ 38-2-9. Jurisdiction of superior court.

(a) Jurisdiction to hear and determine civil actions brought under this chapter is hereby vested in the superior court.

(b) The court may examine any record which is the subject of a suit in camera to determine whether the record or any part thereof may be withheld from public inspection under the terms of this chapter.

(c) Actions brought under this chapter may be advanced on the calendar upon motion of any party, or sua sponte by the court made in accordance with the rules of civil procedure of the superior court.

(d) The court shall impose a civil fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000) against a public body or official found to have committed a knowing and willful violation of this chapter, and a civil fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) against a public body found to have recklessly violated this chapter and shall award reasonable attorney fees and costs to the prevailing plaintiff. The court shall further order a public body found to have wrongfully denied access to public records to provide the records at no cost to the prevailing party; provided, further, that in the event that the court, having found in favor of the defendant, finds further that the plaintiff’s case lacked a grounding in fact or in existing law or in good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, the court may award attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing defendant. A judgment in the plaintiff’s favor shall not be a prerequisite to obtaining an award of attorney’s fees and/or costs if the court determines that the defendant’s case lacked grounding in fact or in existing law or a good faith argument for extension, modification or reversal of existing law.

History of Section.
P.L. 1979, ch. 202, § 1; P.L. 1988, ch. 87, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 263, § 1; P.L. 1998, ch. 378, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 448, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 454, § 1.