Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
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Chief Justice John T. Broderick, Jr. receives 2009 Transparent Courthouse Award from National Civil Justice Reform Organization
CONCORD - New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice John T. Broderick, Jr. has received the 3rd annual Transparent Courthouse Award from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver for his efforts to improve the legal system by making it more open and accountable to all citizens.
Broderick, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1995 after a long career in private law practice, has been Chief Justice for the past five years. The Transparent Courthouse Award was first presented in 2007 to retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Utah's Supreme Court Chief Christine Durham, now the president of the national Conference of Chief Justices, received the award in 2008.
In accepting the award October 22 in Denver, Broderick said he was honored to be recognized by the Institute, which has provided valuable support to judges and court administrators around the country. "There are perilous times for states courts all across America," Broderick said. "The incredible work of the Institute is providing much needed help in keeping state courts focused, respected and affordable."
The Institute's Executive Director and former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis cited Broderick's dedication to making sure that the state courts provide an accessible, efficient forum for resolution of civil disputes, She noted that in 2007, under Chief Justice Broderick's leadership, the New Hampshire Supreme Court established an Access to Justice Commission to support delivery of legal services to low and moderate income citizens in New Hampshire and to develop new initiatives. In her remarks, she also commended Broderick for his efforts to bring attention to the impact of the country's economic crisis on the state courts.
"Throughout the past year, Chief Justice Broderick has been a tireless champion of the men and women—not only of his courts—but of those around the nation," Justice Kourlis during the award presentation. "Whether testifying before legislators—often with his judicial branch colleagues at his side—or seeking face time with the governor, he has urged decision makers to urgently consider the impact of job cuts or allowing judgeships to remain vacant on the integrity of the system," she said.
Early in his tenure as Chief Justice, Broderick, backed by the Supreme Court, the administrative judges and court managers, established a 103-member Citizens Commission charged with conducting an independent review of state court operations from the public's perspective. The IAALS noted that the Commission's unprecedented review became the foundation for the state court system's new long range strategic plan, covering a wide range of topics including family courts, sentencing, and access to the court system for citizens who do not have a lawyer's assistance.
"The report was a bold call-to-action for policy makers, with its declaration that access to legal services must be moved closer to the top of the state's legal agenda," Justice Korlis said.
The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) is a national, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the process and culture of the civil justice system. The Institute, which has led a national effort to improve judicial accountability, worked with the New Hampshire Supreme Court to develop a new electronic survey program for evaluation of individual members of the court.
In addition, Superior Court Chief Justice Robert J. Lynn and Philip R. Waystack, the chair of the New Hampshire chapter of the American College of Trial Lawyers, have been appointed by Chief Justice Broderick to chair a committee to address a 2009 joint report by the Institute and the College of Trial Lawyers focused on problems in the civil justice system. The New Hampshire committee will recommend proposed changes to Superior Court rules to address issues raised in the joint study, in particular pre-trial discovery rules for civil lawsuits.