New Hampshire Supreme Court
|New Hampshire Supreme Court|
|Location:||Concord, New Hampshire|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt.|
|Term:||Until retirement or the age of 70|
- 1 Justices
- 2 Jurisdiction
- 3 Judicial selection
- 4 Caseloads
- 5 Notable decisions
- 6 Ethics
- 7 History of the court
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
The New Hampshire Supreme Court is the supreme court of the state of New Hampshire and sole appellate court of the state. The Supreme Court is seated in the state capital, Concord.
JusticesThe current justices of the court are:
|Justice Gary Hicks||2006-present||Gov. John Lynch|
|Chief Justice Linda Dalianis||2000-Present||Gov. Jeanne Shaheen|
|Justice Carol Conboy||2009-Present||Gov. John Lynch|
|Justice Robert J. Lynn||2010-Present||Gov. John Lynch|
|Justice James Bassett||2012-present||Gov. John Lynch|
The court hears a variety of cases, most of which are either mandatory or discretionary appeals from the lower courts.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review appeals from the lower courts. When the court only accepted 40 percent of the appeals in 2003, the Supreme Court instituted "mandatory appeals on the final decisions on the merits from the Family Division and the District, Probate and Superior Courts," under Supreme Court Rule 7 in January 2004.
Discretionary appeals and original jurisdiction
Conditions that make appeals discretionary are: "a post-conviction review proceeding; a proceeding involving the collateral challenge to a conviction or sentence; a sentence modification or suspension proceeding; an imposition of sentence proceeding; a parole revocation proceeding; or a probation revocation proceeding...Administrative appeals, interlocutory appeals and interlocutory transfers, and certain limited appeals from the decisions of the trial courts are also discretionary appeals. The court also has original jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, habeas corpus and other writs, which the court has discretion to decide which cases to hear."
Three Judges Expedited (3JX)
In December 2000, the Supreme Court created the "Three Judges Expedited" (3JX) to reduce the number of cases that must be heard.
The Court is comprised of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices appointed by the Governor and Executive Council to serve during "good behavior" until retirement or the age of seventy. Part II, Article 46 of the state constitution, states that justices are nominated and appointed by the Governor and Executive Council. Nominations must be made at least three days before the appointment, and must be approved by the majority of the Executive Council. In the case of a vacancy of the court, the Chief Justice or a senior associate justice can assign a former justice of the court.
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of State Supreme Court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of New Hampshire was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, New Hampshire received a score of -0.99. Based on the justices selected, New Hampshire was the 4th most Liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
Part II, Article 73 of the state constitution states all judicial officers shall hold their offices during good behavior, unless the constitution states otherwise. Part II, Article 78 limits judges of any court from holding court once that judge has reached the age of seventy years old. Additionally, justices on the New Hampshire Supreme Court hold tenure until the age of mandatory retirement.
Removal of justices
The state constitution provides two methods for removing judicial officers based on whom is bringing such action. Part II, Article 73 states that "the Governor with consent of the Executive Council may remove any commissioned officer for reasonable cause upon the address of both houses of the legislature; that the cause for removal shall be stated fully and substantially in the address and shall not be a cause which is a sufficient ground for impeachment; and provided further that no officer shall be so removed unless he shall have had an opportunity to be heard in his defense by a joint committee of both houses of the legislature." Part II, Article 17 also states, "The house of representatives shall be the grand inquest of the state; and all impeachments made by them, shall be heard and tried by the senate."
- The first impeachment trial of a Supreme Court justice occurred in 1790 with Justice Woodbury Langdon. The House of Representatives of New Hampshire voted to impeach him, but as the trial in the Senate was postponed, Justice Woodbury resigned.
- In April 2000, Justice David Brock was impeached by the House of Representatives, but when the matter went to the Senate, Justice Brock was not convicted.
- Bokowsky v. State & a., 111 N.H. 57 (1971) - The New Hampshire Attorney General has authority to enter a nolle prosequi in prosecutions initiated by public officials or by private persons.
- Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 138 N.H. 183 (1993) (Claremont I) - state has a constitutional obligation to provide and pay for an adequate education for all New Hampshire children.
- Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 142 N.H. 462 (1997) (Claremont II) adequate education is a fundamental right, then-current system of funding education unconstitutional, state's definition of an adequate education unconstitutional).
- Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 142 N.H. 737 (1998) (Claremont III) - motion to vacate the Claremont II decision because of Justice Batchelder's age.
- Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 143 N.H. 154 (1998) (Claremont IV) - court denies state's request for a two year extension to comply with Claremont II's order to develop a constitutional method of funding education.
- Opinion of the Justices, 142 N.H. 892 (1998) tax abatement provisions of Governor Shaheen's ABC plan unconstitutional
- Opinion of the Justices, 143 N.H. 429 (1999) tax plan referendum unconstitutional
- Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 144 N.H. 210 (1999) (Claremont V) - phase-in of statewide property tax unconstitutional
- Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 144 N.H. 590 (1999) (Claremont VI) - award of attorney's fees
- Opinion of the Justices, 145 N.H. 474 (2000) Fred King plan to fund part of educational adequacy unconstitutional
- Claremont School Dist. v. Governor, 147 N.H. 499 (2002) (Claremont VII) - state's constitutional obligation includes standards of accountability and current state standards unconstitutional
- Merrill v. Sherburne, 1 N.H. 204 (1819) - the Supreme Court of Judicature ruled the General Court's practice of passing bills to give people new trials in certain cases unconstitutional; the practice was common during the American Revolution, but was only done on a case-by-case basis post-Revolution.
- State v. Wentworth, 118 N.H. 832 (1978) - prescribed a model charge for trial judges to instruct a jury on the issue of reasonable doubt, which was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Tsoumas v. State of New Hampshire, 611 F.2d 412 (1980).
- State v. Aubert, 120 N.H. 634 (1980) - the court reversed a conviction which used an alternate reasonable doubt instruction, the court indicated that trial judges should not depart from the Wentworth instruction.
U.S. Supreme Court cases
- Sweezy v. New Hampshire, citing the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the affirmation of a contempt finding against a "subversive person" who refused to answer questions about his activities to the Attorney General and subsequently refused in the State Superior Court.
- Chaplinsky v. State of New Hampshire, the U.S. Supreme Court created the "fighting words" exception to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. New Hampshire earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
History of the court
As a colony, New Hampshire adopted a temporary 1776 Constitution, which established the "Superior Court of Judicature" consisting of four justices. In 1876, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire was created by an act by the legislature. The legislature changed the judiciary again, in 1901, replacing the Supreme Court with two other courts. Sixty-four years later, the state constitution was amended to establish the Supreme Court and the Superior Courts. After 1965, only a constitutional amendment could alter the appellate courts. In the 1970s and 1980s, changes were made in the role of the Chief Justice, giving the position authority over the operation and administration of all courts in the state. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire created the Judicial Conduct Committee in 1977. The powers and procedures of the committee are governed by Supreme Court Rules 38, 39 and 40. The state was one of the first to adopt a code of judicial conduct in 1973. In 2001, the Supreme Court approved an updated version of the state's judicial conduct code. The Judicial Committee acts independently of the Supreme Court.
- News: NH High Court to hear open meetings case addressing attorney-client privilege, December 14, 2011
- News: New Hampshire Supreme Court continues tour, holding sessions at local schools, October 27, 2011
- News: NH Supreme Court limits access to police records, November 14, 2011
- News: "Bigfoot" actor pursues free speech rights in NH Supreme Court, November 28, 2011
- News: NH Supremes hold property owners accountable for injured emergency workers due to negligence, February 29, 2012
- News: Lynch nominates James Bassett to New Hampshire Supreme Court, May 14, 2012
- News: NH Executive Council approves Bassett for seat on NH Supreme Court, May 28, 2012
- News: NH Supreme Court rules court ordered psych exams do not violate Fifth Amendment, August 14, 2012
- New Hampshire Supreme Court Official Site
- The Atlantic "In New Hampshire, a GOP-Led Assault on the State Judiciary" Oct 13 2011
- Brown, Mary E. The Impeachment Trial of the New Hampshire Supreme Court chief justice Lynxfield Publishing 2001 ISBN 0-9707172-1-0
- Foster’s Daily Democrat - Passing Fare: The Does don’t live here anymore
- 2000 Impeachment Resolutions: HR 50, HR 51, HR 52, HR 53, HR 54
- New Hampshire Supreme Court: About the Court
- New Hampshire Supreme Court Rule 38: Code of Judicial Conduct
- RSA 490:3
- Stanford University "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "2009-2011 Financial and Statistical Report"
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Supreme Court Biennial Report"
- Center for Public Integrity "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Unified Court System
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, Judicial Conduct Committee, "History of the Judicial Conduct Committee"
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, Judicial Conduct Committee, "Announcement"
|Former||Richard Galway • James Duggan • John Broderick • Hugh Bownes • Peter Woodbury •|