DATE: March 10, 2004                                              CONTACT: Laura Kiernan  
                                                                                                       Public Information Officer
                                                                                                       603-271-2646 ext 359  



Committee to consider expansion of family services statewide

CONCORD—The New Hampshire Supreme Court today named Judge Edwin W. Kelly to be the Administrative Judge of the Family Division which was established as a legislative pilot project in two counties in 1996 to provide prompt and fair resolution of justice system issues involving children and families.

Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. also announced that a committee, chaired by Associate Supreme Court Justice Linda S. Dalianis, will be appointed to examine a way to deliver services in family law cases uniformly throughout the state. Broderick said the committee, which will include judges, marital masters, lawmakers and others, will report back to the Supreme Court in the fall.

 “The Family Division has proved invaluable in addressing family and marital disputes which are of enormous importance to our citizens and constitute an increasing segment of the Judicial Branch caseload. The Supreme Court looks forward to working in a very constructive way with the Legislature to improve court services to families,” Broderick said, speaking for the full court.  

   “We are delighted that Judge Kelly, who continues to serve so capably as the Administrative Judge of the District Court, has accepted the additional responsibility as Administrative Judge of the Family Division in Grafton and Rockingham Counties. His knowledge of the needs and possibilities of the Family Division will be of enormous assistance in helping it fulfill its mission.”  

  The Chief Justice has discussed the concept of establishing a system to address family court issues in a timely and uniform manner throughout the state with Gov. Craig Benson, Senate President Thomas R. Eaton and House Speaker Gene G. Chandler. Broderick said that the newly established Supreme Court committee will consider whether and how existing judicial branch resources could be reallocated to achieve that goal.  

  The Family Division pilot project, operating for almost eight years in the two counties, holds court sessions in Brentwood, Derry, North Haverhill, Lebanon, Littleton, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Salem for marital and juvenile cases, domestic violence, adoption, guardianship of minors and termination of parental rights. 

  The Family Division appropriation for FY 2004 is $2.3 million, or four percent of the $57.5 judicial branch appropriation in FY 2004. In 2003, there were 6,680 filings in the Family Division.

  “The core of the family division is to reduce the adversarial nature of proceedings involving families and to provide community based courts where these cases can be handled on a consistent basis,” Kelly said in accepting the three-year appointment to oversee judicial administration of the family division.  “I look forward to working with the Supreme Court and the legislature to advance these goals,” Kelly said.

   In a related development, Justice Broderick also announced that Gina B. Apicelli, the executive director of the federally-funded Greenbook Project in Plymouth, has been named the new Family Division Pilot Project Administrator.

   The Greenbook Project is a joint effort of the Grafton County District Court and Family Division, domestic and sexual violence crisis centers and the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to respond to families involved in abuse, neglect and domestic violence issues. Apicelli takes over the administrative position held by Heidi Boyack, who resigned last year to move out of state.

  In addition to her work with the Greenbook Project, Apicelli, a graduate of Franklin Pierce Law Center, has practiced family law in Grafton County and is a certified guardian ad litem and a trained marital mediator. 

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