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Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire

Laura Kiernan
Communications Director
603-271-2646 ext 2359

Learn more about the new Circuit Court
Photo of Tuesday's ceremonial signing


Statehouse Ceremony Highlights New Law Establishing Circuit Court

Gov. Lynch joined by Chief Justice, judges and legislators

CONCORD, July 26 óGov. John Lynch was joined by New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Stewart Dalianis, lawmakers and judges today for the ceremonial signing of legislation that launched the New Hampshire Circuit Court, the most dramatic restructuring of the state court system in 30 years. The law that created the Circuit Court was officially signed by Gov. Lynch on May 16 and went into effect on July 1.

Gov. Lynch, in brief remarks during the ceremony in the Executive Council chambers, cited the Judicial Branch for the "quite remarkable and commendable" way judges and administrators implemented the change, which merged the District and Probate Courts and the Family Division into a single Circuit Court. The restructuring, which was carried out over four months, significantly reduced management personnel and improved efficiencies, at a projected savings of $1.4 million annually. The new Circuit Court will now handle 90 percent of the cases filed in the state court system.

The new Circuit Court was one of 28 recommendations proposed by the Judicial Branch Innovation Commission in a report delivered to the Supreme Court in January 2011. Chief Justice Dalianis, administrative judges and court administrators then worked with lawmakers to implement Commission recommendations as a means to improve productivity and reduce operating expenses.

The combined effort in the statehouse "demonstrated that all three branches of our government can work for the common good and create something important for the citizens of New Hampshire ," Chief Justice Dalianis said in remarks at yesterday's signing ceremony. At the Chief Justice's request, Gov. Lynch presented the pen he used to sign the bill today to Edwin W. Kelly, the Administrative Judge of the Circuit Court, who along with Judge David D. King, now the deputy administrative judge of the Circuit Court, led the restructuring effort.

In addition to approving creation of the Circuit Court, the legislature provided operating budget funding and capital budget funding for implementation of several additional Innovation Commission recommendations including development of e-Court capacities, deployment of videoconferencing and creation of a call center supported by a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone system. 

The first quarterly report from the Judiciary on progress in implementing Innovation Commission recommendations has been posted on the Judicial Branch website.

"This kind of constructive legislation serves the public, the legislature and the judiciary and we should all be proud," State Rep. Gary B. Richardson of Hopkinton, a prime sponsor of the Circuit Court bill, said yesterday.