Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
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New Docket for Business and Commercial Cases Begins Today
Judge Richard B. McNamara to preside in Merrimack County Superior Court
DECEMBER 1, 2009-- The Merrimack County Superior Court today began accepting cases to be scheduled on a new Business and Commercial Dispute Docket (BCDD) which will provide a designated forum for resolution of complex business litigation. All parties to a dispute must consent to assignment of either new or transferred cases to the BCDD. If the case involves a claim for damages, the amount in controversy must exceed $50,000 in potential damages.
New Hampshire now joins 20 other states that have established business court dockets. The new process, approved by the New Hampshire legislature in 2008, is expected to improve the overall efficiency of the state court system by centralizing complex and time-consuming business cases in one court location, under the jurisdiction of a judge specifically assigned to lead the business court. The Supreme Court has recently approved on a temporary basis a new Superior Court Rule 214, which details the procedure that will govern cases assigned to the BCDD. The new rule is available on the Judicial Branch website.
Richard B. McNamara, a former president of the New Hampshire Bar Association who had extensive litigation experience in the state and federal courts, was sworn in as the new business court judge in October, following his nomination to the court by Gov. John Lynch and confirmation by the Executive Council. Judge McNamara, 59, had practiced for 30 years with the Manchester law firm of Wiggin & Nourie, representing clients in both the state and federal courts.
In a recent interview with the New Hampshire Bar News, McNamara said that committing resources specifically to complicated business cases will improve access to justice throughout the court system for all citizens.
"There are business cases already in the courts," McNamara told the Bar News. "Putting the business cases in one location to be handled more expeditiously, will help all litigation move along," he said.
McNamara is assigned as an associate justice at Merrimack County Superior Court and will hear a regular calendar of cases in addition to launching the new business court docket. McNamara is working with Judge Larry M. Smukler, the Supervisory Justice at Merrimack Superior, to expedite processes for electronic filing of business court documents. The court system's new case management system, Odyssey, is scheduled to be installed in Merrimack Superior in March, proving the needed hardware and software platforms for electronic filing.
As part of the ongoing development of the business court docket, McNamara met on November 18 with the Business Litigation Section of the New Hampshire Bar. Following that meeting, Superior Court Rule 214, which implements the BCDD, was amended to allow the presiding judge to schedule hearings for emergency orders based on a preliminary finding that the case fits the BCDD. An adverse party will be notified of the judge's preliminary finding and if an objection is filed, the case will not be assigned to the BCDD but will instead be transferred to the regular Superior Court docket.
In addition, at the suggestion of Business Litigation Section members, non-routine BCDD orders will be posted regularly on the Judicial Branch website.