​About the Rhode Island Judiciary


The Constitution of the State of Rhode Island vests the judicial power in the Supreme Court and in such lower courts as the General Assembly may establish.  By statute, the Rhode Island Judiciary (Judiciary) is a unified court system for purposes of administration consisting of six (6) courts:  the Supreme Court; the Superior Court; the Family Court; the District Court; the Workers' Compensation Court; and the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the executive head of the Judiciary and has the authority to appoint a State Court Administrator and other staff to aid in the administration of the Judiciary.  The administrative affairs of the Judiciary are managed by the State Court Administrator through the Administrative Office of State Courts (AOSC). Under the direction of the Chief Justice, the duties of the State Court Administrator and the AOSC include, but are not limited to: preparing an annual budget for the Judiciary, including all salaries; managing all judicial appropriations for the courts (unless provided otherwise by law); procuring office space, supplies, equipment, and professional assistants for the Judiciary; adopting rules and regulations; and supervising the maintenance of all Judiciary buildings.

The AOSC is composed of eighteen (18) departments, of which thirteen (13) service the entire Judiciary, including: Facilities, Operations, and Security; Employee Relations; General Counsel; Finance and Budget; Community Outreach and Public Relations; the Judicial Technology Center; the State Law Library; the Law Clerk Department; Judicial Planning; Mandatory Continuing Legal Education and Judicial Education; the Judicial Records Center; the Access to Justice Office; and the Diversity Office.

The Judiciary's lower courts are each managed by the respective administrative leaders: the Presiding Justice of the Superior Court; the Chief Judge of the Family Court; the Chief Judge of the District Court; the Chief Judge of the Workers' Compensation Court; and the Chief Magistrate of the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal. These administrative leaders of the Judiciary's lower courts manage certain affairs of the respective courts such as: establishing calendars and assigning judges; appointing administrative and clerical personnel; acting as the authorized agent for the respective court; and making rules for the conduct of the respective court's business subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.​​​​