New Hampshire Supreme Court
|New Hampshire Supreme Court|
|Location:||Concord, New Hampshire|
|Term:||Until retirement or the age of 70|
JusticesThe current justices of the court are:
|Justice Gary Hicks||2006-Present||Gov. Judges appointed by John Lynch|
|Chief Justice Linda Dalianis||2000-Present||Gov. Jeanne Shaheen|
|Justice Carol Conboy||2009-Present||Gov. Judges appointed by John Lynch|
|Justice Robert J. Lynn||2010-Present||Gov. Judges appointed by John Lynch|
|Justice James Bassett||2012-Present||Gov. Judges appointed by John Lynch|
The court is composed of a chief justice and four associate justices. The governor appoints justices, in coordination with the Executive Council. The governor must make nominations at least three days before the appointment, after which the majority of the council must approve.
Part II, Article 73, of the New Hampshire Constitution holds that all judicial officers shall remain in office during good behavior unless otherwise noted in the constitution. Part II, Article 78 sets the mandatory retirement age. Justices on the New Hampshire Supreme Court hold tenure until the age of 70, which is also the case for all other judges in the state.
The position of chief justice is held by the justice with the most seniority on the court for up to five years. If all justices have served as chief, it becomes a rotating five-year position based on seniority.
The supreme court has jurisdiction to hear appeals from lower trial courts, as well as many administrative agencies. The court may also issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, habeas corpus and other writs.
The court implemented a rule, Supreme Court Rule 7, instituting mandatory appeals in January 2004. Since that rule has been in place, the supreme court has accepted most appeals from the circuit and superior courts. Most appeals made in a timely manner after the final decision of a trial court are mandatory. That means they will be automatically accepted by the supreme court. Generally, parties may submit a transcript of the lower court proceedings and file written briefs. The high court chooses whether to hear oral arguments or decide the case solely on the briefs.
The type of appeals that fall under the category of "discretionary" include administrative appeals, interlocutory appeals and interlocutory transfers, petitions for original jurisdiction (e.g. writs of habeas corpus) and some trial court appeals. The supreme court has the discretion not to accept such cases for appellate review. If a case is accepted, the court usually follows the same procedure that it would for a mandatory appeal.
Three Judges Expedited (3JX)
In December 2000, the supreme court created a three-judge expedited docket. Referred to as a "Three Judges Expedited" (3JX) panel, the intention is to allow the court to schedule more cases each day and to reduce the backlog. Counsel are given no more than five minutes of uninterrupted oral argument. Judges can issue decisions in 3JX cases within two to three weeks.
The panels alternate judges from month to month, and parties are not aware of who is on the panel until oral argument. Decisions must be unanimous, and the court must provide written orders to the parties within 30 days of oral argument. If a decision is not unanimous, either counsel will reargue the case or it will come under the consideration of the entire court.
Supreme Court Rule 12-D(3) states that 3JX rulings do not create precedent and may not be cited in future decisions.
- New Hampshire has not published caseload statistics since 2011.
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.
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.
Removal of justices
There are two methods for removing supreme court justices. The governor may do so in accordance with the Executive Council, and the legislature may do so through the impeachment process.
According to Part II, Article 73, of the state constitution,
|“||The governor with consent of the council may remove any commissioned officer for reasonable cause upon the address of both houses of the legislature, provided nevertheless 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.||”|
According to Part II, Article 17,
|“||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.||”|
There have been just two impeachments in the history of the court.
- Justice Woodbury Langdon was impeached in 1790 for poor attendance. After the House of Representatives of New Hampshire voted to impeach him, and before the senate trial, Woodbury resigned.
- Justice David Brock was impeached by the House of Representatives on July 12, 2000, but when the matter went to the senate, Justice Brock was not convicted.
| • Ruling on constitutionality of school funding allocation (1997)|
(Claremont School District v. Governor)
|Click for summary→|
|Claremont School District v. Governor of New Hampshire is actually a series of cases beginning in 1993, in which the city of Claremont, N.H., alleged that the state's system of allocating funds for education was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs were five school districts, five children and five taxpayers, one from each district. The lawsuit alleged that New Hampshire failed to "spread educational opportunities equitably among its students," and that an 8 percent cap on state aid to public education was unconstitutional. By 1997, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, declaring the funding system unconstitutional. In 2005, plaintiffs filed another suit alleging that the state had still not met its constitutional requirements. In Londonderry School District v. State on September 8, 2006, the court ordered the state to define a "constitutionally adequate education" by June 2007.|
For more information on education policy, visit Policypedia.
| • Model jury instructions (1978)|
(State v. Wentworth)
|Click for summary→|
|In 1978, the supreme court suggested a set of model jury instructions "to avoid needless litigation." In part, the instructions read:
| • Ruling on powers of attorneys general (1971)|
(Bowkowsky v. State)
|Click for summary→|
|On February 26, 1971, the supreme court ruled that the attorney general may enter a nolle prosequi, whether the prosecution originated with a public official or a private individual.|
| • U.S. Supreme Court ruling on "subversive persons" (1957)|
(Sweezy v. New Hampshire)
|Click for summary→|
|On Fourteenth Amendment grounds, the United States Supreme Court overturned the New Hampshire Supreme Court's affirmation of contempt against Paul Sweezy, who was found in violation of a "subversive persons" law for refusing to answer questions by the attorney general and the superior court. The federal supreme court found that the state supreme court's finding of contempt violated Sweezy's right to due process.|
| • U.S. Supreme Court's "fighting words" doctrine (1942)|
(Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire)
|Click for summary→|
|On appeal from the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the state court's conviction of a man for using offensive words in a public place. Establishing the "fighting words" doctrine, the federal court ruled that the state law did not violate the defendant's freedom of speech. The court found that because the defendant's offensive language was "likely to provoke the average person to retaliation, and thereby cause a breach of the peace," his speech was not constitutionally protected.|
| • Judicial review in New Hampshire (1818)|
(Merrill v. Sherburne)
|Click for summary→|
|In September 1818, the New Hampshire Supreme Court of Judicature ruled that in particular cases, the court had the exclusive power of applying law, and therefore the power of judicial review. Justice Levi Woodbury called the practice of "restoration to law" unconstitutional. This was the practice of enacting legislation to grant new trials in particular cases. Merrill v. Sherburne has historically been considered the New Hampshire equivalent to Marbury v. Madison, but it was not the first time judicial review was practiced in the state.|
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.
Associate Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States started his judicial career on the New Hampshire Supreme Court in 1983. He left the court in 1990 to take the federal seat.
- Courts in New Hampshire
- State supreme courts
- 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 Judicial Branch, "Supreme Court - Meet the Justices"
- The Atlantic, "In New Hampshire, a GOP-led assault on the state judiciary," October 13, 2011
- New Hampshire Supreme Court, "Rule 38: Code of Judicial Conduct"
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Supreme Court," accessed January 29, 2015
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "About the Supreme Court," accessed April 29, 2015
- State of New Hampshire Revised Statutes Online, "Section 490:3," accessed January 29, 2015
- New Hampshire Government, "State Constitution: Judiciary Power," January 2007
- State of New Hampshire Revised Statutes Online, "Section 490:1," accessed January 29, 2015
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Supreme Court - 3JX Final Orders," accessed April 29, 2015
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "2009-2011 Financial and Statistical Report"
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Supreme Court Biennial Report"
- Stanford University, "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Center for Public Integrity, "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- New Hampshire Government, "State Constitution: House of Representatives," January 2007
- ABC News, "N.H. judge impeached," July 12, 2000
- ABC News, "N.H. judge acquitted at impeachment trial," October 10, 2000
- Claremont Lawsuit Coalition, "Claremont School Dist. v. Governor," 138 N.H. 183, December 30, 1993
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "Claremont School District v. Governor," December 17, 1997
- National Education Access Network, "New Hampshire Supreme Court requires state to define an adequate education," September 14, 2006
- Justia US Law, "State v. Wentworth," 1978
- Casetext, "Bokowsky v. State," February 26, 1971
- Justia US Supreme Court, "Sweezy v. New Hampshire," June 17, 1957
- Justia US Supreme Court, "Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire," March 9, 1942
- The American Journal of Legal History, "Interpretation and Authority: Separation of Powers and the Judiciary's Battle for Independence in New Hampshire, 1786-1818," Vol 39, No, 3, July 1995
- New Hampshire Bar Association, "Judicial Review and Its Limits; Part I (Legitimacy)," Fall 2006
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, "About the Supreme Court," accessed January 29, 2015
- New Hampshire Judicial Branch, Judicial Conduct Committee, "Announcement"
- Federal Judicial Center, "History of the Federal Judiciary: Souter, David Hackett," accessed April 29, 2015
|Former||Richard Galway • James Duggan • John Broderick • Hugh Bownes • Peter Woodbury •|