DATE: April 18, 2005 

CONTACT: 

Laura Kiernan
Judicial Branch
Communications Office
271-2646 ext 359

 

 

CITIZENS COMMISSION ON STATE COURTS CONVENES IN CONCORD

UNH Survey Center to Sample Public Opinion on Justice System

CONCORD—The Supreme Court today convened the first meeting of the newly created "New Hampshire Citizens Commission on the State Courts" which will conduct an independent assessment of the state justice system and recommend how its operations can be improved.

The 103-member Citizens Commission will be co-chaired by Will Abbott of Holderness, the executive director of the Mt. Washington Observatory, and Katharine Eneguess of Jaffrey, the president of the New Hampshire Community Technical College in Berlin/Laconia.

"There is no doubt that these two outstanding citizens will lead the Commission with organizational skill and energy that will have an important and longstanding impact on the administration of justice in our state," Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. said in a recent letter to Commissioners.

The Supreme Court has received a grant of $25,000 from the New Hampshire Bar Foundation to support a statewide survey of public opinion about the legal system to be conducted this summer by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The Center’s director Andrew Smith met today with Abbott and Eneguess and with Chief Justice Broderick to launch the project.

The New Hampshire Bar Foundation is a philanthropic organization which dedicates resources to projects involving equal access to justice and public education on the court system. The Bar Foundation has provided an additional $5,000 to provide administrative support to the Citizens Commission, in addition to the funds needed to conduct the statewide opinion poll.

"A core part of the mission of the Bar Foundation is to improve access to justice for all in New Hampshire," Bar Foundation Chair Paul W. Chant said, " A comprehensive survey to evaluate the opinions and knowledge of our citizens about the courts is a great place to start to build a justice system that can better meet the needs of all citizens," Chant said.

Following completion of the statewide citizens survey, the Commission plans to hold "listening sessions’ in all 10 counties in New Hampshire.

"The final product of the commission will be to suggest constructive ways to make the New Hampshire state courts more attentive to the contemporary needs of New Hampshire citizens," Commission co-chair Abbott said. "Thomas Jefferson once said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. The work of this citizens commission is part of that eternal vigilance," he added.

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A list of the members of the Commission is available at http://www.courts.state.nh.us/press/committee_list.htm. A more detailed look at the future of the New Hampshire Court system and citizen involvement and formation of the Commission see Chief Justice Broderick’s State of the Judiciary address at http://www.courts.state.nh.us/press/stateofjudiciary.htm.