2020-02-25: Introduced, referred to Senate Judiciary
2020-06-12: Scheduled for hearing and/or consideration (06/15/2020)
2020-06-15: Committee recommends passage
2020-06-15: Placed on Senate Calendar (06/17/2020)
2020-06-15: Placed on Senate Calendar (06/18/2020)
2020-06-18: Senate passed as amended (floor amendment)
2020-07-14: Referred to House Judiciary
Changes since original draft
2020 – S 2585
S T A T E O F R H O D E I S L A N D
IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
JANUARY SESSION, A.D. 2020
A N A C T
RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE–PROCEDURE GENERALLY –
CAUSES OF ACTION
Introduced By: Senators Metts, Quezada, and Euer
Date Introduced: February 25, 2020
Referred To: Senate Judiciary
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 9-1-35 of the General Laws in Chapter 9-1 entitled "Causes of Action" is hereby amended to read as follows:
9-1-35. Civil action for ethnic or religious intimidation and/or vandalism.
(a) Any Whenever a person, who is maliciously subjected to an act or acts which would reasonably be construed as intended to harass or intimidate the person because of his or her the person's actual or perceived race, religion, or national origin, ancestry, color, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or disability, the person may bring an action in the superior court against the perpetrator of the act or acts for compensatory damages including damages for emotional distress. The court, in its discretion, may also restrain and enjoin such future acts by the defendant.
(b) If any provision or part of this section or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the section which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions or parts of this section are severable.
SECTION 2. Section 42-9.3-2 of the General Laws in Chapter 42-9.3 entitled "Office of Civil Rights Advocate" is hereby amended to read as follows:
42-9.3-2. Action by attorney general.
(a) Whenever any person, whether or not acting under color of law, intentionally interferes or threatens to intentionally interfere, by physical force or violence against a person, by damage or destruction of property or by trespasson property, or by any act or actswhich would reasonably be construed as intended to harass or threaten any person:
(1) Withwiththeexercise orenjoyment byanyotherpersonof rightssecuredbytheUnited StatesConstitutionorthelawsoftheUnitedStatesorofrightssecuredbytheConstitutionofRhode Island or laws of the state,; or
(2) Because of a person'sactual or perceived race, religion, ancestry, national origin, color, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or disability, the attorney general may bring a civil action for injunctive or other appropriate equitable relief in order to protect the peaceable exercise or enjoyment of the rights secured.
(b) Whenever any person shall engage in repeated illegal acts that violate the civil rights law of the United States or the state of Rhode Island, or the United States Constitution or Rhode Island Constitution, the attorney general may apply to the superior court for the county where any of the alleged violation(s) occurred or are threatened, on notice of five (5) days, for an order enjoiningthecontinuance of suchactivity, anddirectingrestitutionanddamages, or anyotherrelief the court may deem proper.
(b)(c) A civil action under this chapter shall be brought in the name of the state for or on behalf of any person so aggrieved and shall be instituted in the superior court for the county where the alleged victim resides or has a principal place of business or where the alleged violation occurred or is threatened.
SECTION 3. Chapter 42-9.3 of the General Laws entitled "Office of Civil Rights Advocate" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:
42-9.3-5. Civil investigative demand.
(a) Whenever it appears to the attorney general that a person has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in, any act or practice declared to be unlawful by this chapter, or when the attorney general believes it to be in the public interest that an investigation should be made to ascertain whether a person in fact has engaged in, is engaging in, or is about to engage in, any act or practice declared to be unlawful by this chapter, he or she may execute, in writing, and cause to be served upon any person who is believed to have information, documentary material, or physical evidence relevant to the alleged or suspected violation, an investigative demand stating the general subject matter of the investigation and require the person to furnish, under oath or otherwise, a report in writing stating the relevant facts and circumstances of which the person hasknowledge, or to appear and testify or to produce relevant, documentary material or physical evidence forexamination, at any reasonable time and place that may be stated inthe investigative demand. All civil investigative demandsmay, at the discretion of the attorney general, be filed in the superior court of the county in which the person served with the demand shall dwell or have his or her principal place of business.
(b)Atanytimebeforethereturndatespecifiedinaninvestigativedemand,orwithintwenty (20) days after the demand has been served, whichever period is shorter, a petition to extend the return date or to modify or set aside the demand, stating good cause, may be filed in the superior court in which the person served with the demand shall dwell or have his or her principal place of business, or in the superior court of Providence County.
(c) To accomplish the objectives and to carry out the duties prescribed by this chapter, the attorney general, in addition to other powers conferred upon him or her by this section, may issue subpoenas to any person; administer an oath or affirmation to any person; conduct hearings in aid of any investigation or inquiry; and prescribe any forms and promulgate any rules and regulations that may be necessary, which rules and regulations shall have the force of law; provided that none of the powers conferred by this section shall be used for the purpose of compelling any natural person to furnish testimony or evidence that might tend to incriminate the person or subject him or her to a penalty or forfeiture.
(d) Service of any notice, demand, or subpoena underthis section shall be made personally within this state, but if personal service cannot be obtained, substituted service may be made in the following manner:
(1) Personal service without this state;
(2) The mailing of any notice, demand, or subpoena under this section by registered or certified mail to the last known place of business, residence, or abode within or without this state of the person for whom the service is intended;
(3) As to any person other than a natural person, in the manner provided inthe rules of civil procedure as if a complaint or other pleading that institutes a civil proceeding had been filed; or
(4) Service that the superior court may direct in lieu of personal service within thisstate.
(e) A person upon whoma demand isserved pursuant tothe provisionsof thissection shall comply with the terms of the demand unless otherwise provided by order of court. Subject to the protections provided for in subsection (c) of this section relating to self-incrimination, any person who, with intent to avoid, evade, or prevent compliance, in whole or in part, with any civil investigative demand under this section, removes from any place, conceals, withholds, or destroys, mutilates, alters, or by any other meansfalsifies any documentarymaterial in the possession, custody, orcontrol of any person who is the subject of any demand, or knowingly conceals any relevant information, shall be fined not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
(f) If any person fails or refuses to file any statement or report, or obey any subpoena or investigative demand issued by the attorney general, the attorney general may file in the superior court of the county inwhich the person shalldwell or be found; or has his or her principal place of business; or in Providence County, ifthe superior court at the previously mentioned county shall not be in session, or if the person is a nonresident or has no principal place of business in this state; or of the othercounty asmay be agreed upon by the parties to the petition; and serve upon the person a petition for an order ofthe court for the enforcement ofthissection, and the petition may request, and the court shall have jurisdiction to grant, after notice and a hearing, an order granting any relief that may be required, until the person files the statement or report, or obeys the subpoena or investigative demand.
(g) Any final order so entered shall be subject to appeal to the state supreme court. Any disobedience of any final order entered under this section by any court shall be punished as a contempt of court.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon passage.
BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
A N A C T
RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE–PROCEDURE GENERALLY –
CAUSES OF ACTION
This act would authorize the office of the attorney general-office of civil rights advocate to issue a civil investigative demand in instancesof perceived violationsof a RhodeIslander'scivil rights.Theact wouldalso clarifythescopeofjurisdiction of theoffice oftheattorneygeneral office of civil rights advocate; and would modify the scope of the civil action for ethnic/religious intimidation and/or vandalism, and would codify the attorney general'sauthority tobring an action when there is a pattern or practice of civil rights violations.
This act would take effect upon passage. ======== LC005058 ========
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