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NEWS RELEASE

Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire

CONTACT:
Laura Kiernan
Communications Director
lkiernan@courts.state.nh.us
603-271-2646 ext 2359

 

SUPREME COURT COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS
SIMPLIFIED RULES FOR SUPERIOR COURT

Proposal to change Judicial Conduct Code recognizes increasing number of pro se parties

CONCORD, September 17 - The Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules has recommended that the court adopt new rules for the Superior Court and for procedures in criminal cases. The Committee, recognizing the increasing number of citizens who come to court without lawyers, has also proposed a change to the Code of Judicial Conduct which would allow judges to make "reasonable efforts" to facilitate the ability for all litigants, including self-represented litigants, to be fairly heard by the court.

A court order (R-2010-0001), which includes links for readers to the full text of these proposed changes, was posted on the Judicial Branch website today. Paper copies of the proposed rules are also available for review at the Supreme Court clerk's office and at the New Hampshire Law Library, both located at One Charles Doe Drive, Concord.

Supreme Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy, the chair of the Supreme Court rules committee, said that the group's work, which took into consideration recent revisions to the American Bar Association's Model Code of Judicial Conduct, represented an effort to reorganize and simplify existing rules to make them easier to follow and more in line with current legal practice. The recommended updates do not change the substance of the current Superior Court rules or the existing rules for criminal procedure, Justice Conboy said.

The committee, in comments published with the proposed change to the Code of Judicial Conduct, noted that the "growth in litigation involving self-represented litigants and the responsibility of courts to promote access to justice warrant reasonable flexibility by judges, consistent with the law and court rules, to ensure that all litigants are fairly heard."

The Supreme Court also posted a second order today (R-2010-0002) that is bookmarked to take readers to other proposed rules amendments including those governing medical malpractice screening panels, withdrawal of counsel in criminal cases, and lawyers' trust accounts (IOLTA). The IOLTA proposal requires that lawyers who maintain client funds do so in interest-bearing trust accounts which generate funds for IOLTA grants to non-profit organizations which help fund civil legal services and pro bono programs.

Rules adopted by the Supreme Court govern procedures followed in the state courts for processing civil and criminal cases. In addition, the court also adopts rules in connection with its obligation, established in the state constitution, to oversee the administration of the Judicial Branch.

The Supreme Court is accepting written comments on the proposed rule changes from the judiciary, members of the New Hampshire Bar, the Legislative and Executive branches and members of the public until November 30, 2010. Comments can be e-mailed to the court at rulescomment@courts.state.nh.us . Written comments (which must include an original and seven copies) can also be filed with the Supreme Court clerk in Concord.

 

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