Courts in New Hampshire
Courts in New Hampshire consist of the New Hampshire state court system and one federal court.
The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state. The Chief Justice is the head of the judiciary and, with the other justices of the supreme court, oversees the judicial branch.
The Superior Court is the court of general jurisdiction and the only court which holds jury trials in civil and criminal cases. All cases are appealed directly to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
New Hampshire's lower courts were combined into 10 Circuit Courts, with at least one location in each of New Hampshire's counties on July 1, 2011. The courts were created under (HB 609), which was signed into law by Governor John Lynch on May 16, 2011. 90% of the cases filed in New Hampshire will be heard in these courts. Each Circuit Court has three divisions: district, probate and family, although some courts may have multiple locations, depending on the size of the county. In the United States and Canada, callers can reach any of the Circuit Courts by calling 1-855-212-1234, toll free.
- Formerly called the Probate Court, the Probate Division of the New Hampshire Circuit Courts has jurisdiction over the following matters: wills, trusts and estates, guardianships and involuntary commitment proceedings, adoptions, name changes and the partition of real estate. In the process of consolidation, the number of probate courts was reduced from 117 to 54, with locations in 10 counties.
- Formerly called the District Court, the District Division of the New Hampshire Circuit Courts handles misdemeanor and violation offenses (including motor vehicle violations), small claims, landlord-tenant matters, stalking cases and other civil cases. There are 32 District Division court locations throughout New Hampshire.
- Formerly called the Family Court, the Family Division of the New Hampshire Circuit Courts has jurisdiction over matters involving divorce and parenting, child support, domestic violence petitions, guardianship of minors, termination of parental rights, abuse and neglect cases, matters regarding children who need services, juvenile delinquency and some adoption matters. There are 28 Family Division locations in the following counties:
The federal court in New Hampshire is the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. It is part of the First Circuit.
- News: New Hampshire court system receives overhaul, July 6, 2011
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch website
- Find your New Hampshire court here
- New Hampshire gets 'F' for judiciary disclosures, December 4, 2013
- Another view: Courts needed major makeover, December 5, 2011
- State of New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court," accessed December 19, 2013
- New Haven Register "Probate court changes in 2011 will mean longer drives for some," November 30, 2009
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court Probate Division," accessed December 19, 2013
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court District Division," accessed December 19, 2013
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Circuit Court Family Division," accessed December 19, 2013