Portsmouth municipal court hears first case

Portsmouth municipal court hears first case

The Town Council Monday night approved this seal for Portsmouth’s Municipal Court.

PORTSMOUTH — The town’s municipal court is now in session.

The Town Council Monday night approved this seal for Portsmouth’s Municipal Court.
The Town Council Monday night approved this seal for Portsmouth’s municipal court.

The court, which primarily hears alleged violations of the town’s zoning ordinance, meets at 9 a.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at Town Hall. The first court convened on April 16 and the next one is scheduled for May 21.

Town Clerk Joanne Mower said the first court session had only one case on the docket, involving a noise complaint. The defendant pleaded not guilty at the arraignment — which lasted only a few minutes — and is scheduled to return for a pre-trial on May 21, she said.

The court expects to be busier in the coming months, however. Ms. Mower said the town’s zoning enforcement officer has been busy sending out “naughty letters” to alleged violators.

The General Assembly approved legislation in the spring of 2013 to allow the establishment of the court, which is modeled after similar ones in neighboring towns. Town officials say the court allows for more efficient enforcement of local zoning and traffic violations.

Without such a court in place, town officials have said, complaining about a town ordinance violation can be an exercise in frustration for homeowners. The court is also expected to accelerate the legal process for disposition of violations and should help cut the town costs, such as those resulting when town officials, including police officers, travel to courts outside the town.

The court may impose a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, or both. It may also punish defendants for contempt, such as when they don’t appear to answer a charge. The town is also authorized to assess court costs of $50 for each offense.

Richard P. D’Addario is the municipal court judge for Portsmouth. Mr. D’Addario, who has a law office in Newport, has been the probate judge for the Town of Tiverton since 1993, as well as the probate judge for Little Compton since last July.


  1. What happens when the Town of Portsmouth breaks its own bylaws- who takes the town to court ?

    The Town of Porstmouth is in a unique position today over the wind turbine and special legislation that was enacted to build the turbine.

    The Portsmouth High School wind turbine broke down years ago.

    Today Portsmouth faces legislative issues over the ownership and bonding of the turbine. As you remember back in 2007 the town was in a rush to buy the industrial machine and moved quickly to get voter ratification .

    The Town of Portsmouth went to the General Assembly and asked voters be able to vote for a 3 million dollar bond and the turbine in a single vote. The legislation was passed and the Town of Portsmouth voted for the bond-turbine package. The voters in Portsmouth voted “yes” for two items in a single ballot question. They voted for the wind turbine and the bond / loans in one single vote.

    How can Portsmouth Town Council now sell the turbine to a private contractor or do anything with the broken turbine without going back to the voters ? Aren’t they breaking their own bylaws ?

    The town wants to take down the three million dollar turbine which it still owes 2.3 million in bond debt. The bond is a zero percent bond.If the town goes into a public private partnership the bond could very well change to a 5 to 7 percent bond retroactive to 2009.

    The finances may dictate that the town repair the turbine to the tune of one million dollars and then again in another three years.

    The Town is meeting in “Executive Session” about the ongoing financial fiasco .

    The bond question will have to back to the voters again yes or no ?

    Senate Bill S 0260


    House Bill 2007 — H 5217

    amended ”