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Supreme Court Rules Table of Contents

RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

ADMINISTRATIVE RULES 35 TO 61

Rule 51. Rule-Making Procedures.


(a) Scope and Purpose.  These procedures are adopted to aid the Supreme Court in discharging its rulemaking responsibilities in the areas of procedure in all courts and shall apply to all amendments or additions to such rules.  The purpose of court rules is to provide necessary governance of court procedure and practice and to promote justice by ensuring a fair and expeditious process.  In discharging its rulemaking responsibility, the New Hampshire Supreme Court seeks to ensure that:

      1. Minimal disruption in court practice occurs, by limiting the frequency of rule changes;
      2. Rules are regularly reviewed to consider current developments, needs, and changes;
      3. The adoption and amendment of rules proceeds in an orderly and uniform manner;
      4. The public, the bench and the bar receive notice and an opportunity to comment on proposed rules;
      5. There is adequate notice of the adoption and effective date of new and revised rules;
      6. The rules of court are clear, definite in application and consistent with each other.

(b) Definitions.

      1. “Rule suggestion” is a suggestion for a rule change or a new rule that has been submitted to the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Rules.
      2. “Proposed rule” is a rule change or addition that the Advisory Committee on Rules has recommended to the Supreme Court and which the Supreme Court has ordered published for comment or hearing before the Advisory Committee on Rules or the Court.
      3. “Advisory Committee on Rules” is the Committee established by this rule to assist the Court in discharging its rulemaking responsibilities.

     

(c) Initiation of Rules Change. 

(1) Any person or group may submit to the Supreme Court a suggestion to adopt, amend or repeal a court rule.  The suggestion shall be directed to the secretary of the Advisory Committee on Rules and should include the following, to the extent possible:

    (A) The text of the suggested rule.   If the suggestion is to amend an existing rule, the text of the existing rule should be included and strikethrough should be used to indicate the suggestion to delete text, and [bold and brackets] should be used to indicate the suggestion to add text; and

    (B) A letter or cover sheet providing the following information:

      (i) Name of Proponent:  the name of the person or group suggesting the rule change and the proponent’s mailing address, telephone number and email address;

      (ii) Purpose:  the reason or necessity for the suggested rule, including whether it creates or resolves any conflicts with statutes, case law, or other court rules;

      (iii) Expedited consideration:  whether the proponent believes that exceptional circumstances justify expedited consideration of the suggested rule.

      (iv) Hearing:  Whether the proponent wishes to be heard by the Advisory Committee on Rules regarding the suggested rule.

(2) The Chair of the Advisory Committee on Rules shall review the request to determine whether it is clearly stated and provides sufficient information.  If the Chair of the Committee determines that a request is unclear or is otherwise insufficient, the Chair may: (1) accept the rule suggestion notwithstanding its noncompliance; or (2) ask the proponent to submit additional information.

(3) If the Chair accepts the rule suggestion, he or she shall direct the Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Rules to add the suggestion to the agenda of the next meeting of the Committee.  However, if the Chair determines that the suggestion calls for a technical change, would implement a change required by statute that permits no discretion in the drafting of the language of the rule or rule amendment, or concludes that exceptional circumstances justify expedited consideration of the suggestion, the Chair may submit the suggestion directly to the Court, and the Court shall follow the procedures set forth in section (f) of this rule.

    (d) The Advisory Committee on Rules     

(1) Membership.

    (A) There shall be an Advisory Committee on Rules, which shall be composed of sixteen members as follows:

      (i) One active or retired judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the Supreme Court and shall serve as the Chair of the Committee;

      (ii) One active or retired judge of the Superior Court shall be appointed by the Supreme Court;

      (iii) Two active or retired judges from the Circuit Court shall be appointed by the Supreme Court;

      (iv) Two attorneys shall be appointed by the Supreme Court.

      (v) Three laypersons shall be appointed by the Supreme Court.

      (vi) One member shall be appointed by the Governor.

      (vii) The president of the senate, or the president’s designee.

      (viii) The speaker of the house, or the speaker’s designee.

      (ix) One clerk or court administrator from the Superior Court shall be appointed by the Supreme Court.

      (x) One clerk or court administrator from the Circuit Court shall be appointed by the Supreme Court.

      (xi) One member of the New Hampshire Bar Association Board of Governors and one member of the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts shall be designated by the president of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

    (B) Members, except for the member appointed by the Governor and the designees of the Senate President and Speaker of the House, shall serve three year terms, and shall be limited to a maximum of three full terms.  Initial appointments shall be for staggered terms:  one third of the members for three years; one third of the members for two years and one third of the members for one year.  A member selected to fill a vacancy shall hold office for the unexpired term of his or her predecessor.

    (C) The terms of the Governor's appointee, and of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate or their designees shall be coterminous with their terms of office.

    (D) A vacancy on the committee shall occur:

      (i) When a member has served three full terms;

      (ii) When a member ceases to be a member by resignation or otherwise;

      (iii) When a clerk or administrator ceases to hold the office which he or she held at the time of appointment;

      (iv) When a lawyer ceases to be admitted to practice in the courts of this State or is appointed to judicial office;

      (v) When a layperson becomes a lawyer or a judge;

      (vi) When a New Hampshire Bar Association Board of Governors member ceases to be a member of the Board of Governors or when the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts representative ceases to be a member of the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts.

      (E) Members appointed by the Governor and the president of the New Hampshire Bar Association shall serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority.

      (F) The secretary of the committee shall be the Clerk of the Supreme Court or any other person designated by the Supreme Court.

(2) Responsibilities.  The Advisory Committee on Rules shall have the following responsibilities:

      (A) To receive and assess all suggested rule and rule amendments referred by the Chair of the Committee;

      (B) To identify, and solicit comment from, those who are likely to be most affected by, or interested in, a suggested rule or rule amendment;

      (C) To hold at least two public meetings per year;

      (D) To hold public hearings to receive comment from any member of the public, bench or the bar on the suggested rule and rule amendments when the Committee believes it is appropriate to obtain additional information beyond the input it received from interested persons pursuant to subsection (d)(2)(B); 

      (E) To consider the entire body of rules for which it is responsible by periodically reviewing each separate set of rules;

      (F) To consider the impact of any suggested rule or rule amendment upon existing statutes or pending legislation, and to include in any submission to the Court of proposed rule changes a statement of the Committee’s views on such impact;

      (G) To submit a report to the Court on or before April 1 and on or before November 1 of each year on proposed rule and rule amendments, or to report to the Court on or before April 1 and on or before November 1 that it has determined that no changes are in its opinion necessary at that time;

      (H) To include in any submission to the Court a report of any comments received by the Committee from the courts, judges, bar or the public;

      (I) To retain for a minimum of three years, as matters of public record, all rule suggestions and all Committee reports, agendas, minutes and notices of public hearing;

      (J) To maintain a webpage on the judicial branch website.

    (3) April 1 and November 1 Reports to the Court.

      (A) On or before April 1 and on or before November 1 of each year, the Advisory Committee shall submit to the Court a report of any proposed rules or amendments by filing them with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

      (B) Each report shall include a summary of the Committee’s reasons for the proposed rule and rule amendments.

      (C) For each proposed rule or rule amendment, the Committee shall advise the Clerk of the Supreme Court whether it recommends a hearing before the full Court.

 (e)   Court Consideration of Recommended Rules Changes.

    (1) Upon receipt of a report from the Advisory Committee on Rules, the Clerk of the Supreme Court shall distribute copies of proposed rules and amendments or the Committee’s summary thereof, together with an invitation for comments, as follows:

      (A) Copies to the New Hampshire Bar Association and such publications as the Court deems appropriate;

      (B) Copies to the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House and Chairpersons of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees:

      (C) Copies to such other persons and places as the Chief Justice may direct.

    (2) The invitation shall call for comment on the proposed rules or amendments from members of the bench, bar, and public to be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. Unless the Court determines that a shorter period is necessary, a period of at least 30 days shall be allowed for comment. All comments shall be available for public review.

    (3) The Court may, in its discretion, hold a hearing on a proposed rule at a time and in a manner specified by the court.  If the Supreme Court orders a hearing, it shall set the time and place of the hearing and determine the manner in which the hearing will be conducted.  The Supreme Court may designate one or more justices to conduct the hearing.

(f) Special Cases.

    (1) The Chair of the Advisory Committee on Rules may, as set forth in paragraph (c)(3), refer a rule suggestion directly to the Court, rather than to the Advisory Committee on Rules.

    (2) If the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Rules, upon review of a suggested rule or rule amendment, concludes that the change is technical, or would implement a change required by statute that permits no discretion in the drafting of the language of the rule or rule amendment, the Chair may submit the suggested rule or rule amendment to the Court with a recommendation that it be adopted on a permanent basis.

    (3) If the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Rules, upon review of a suggested rule or rule amendment, concludes that exceptional circumstances justify expedited consideration of the request, the Chair may submit the suggested rule or rule amendment to the Court. 

      (A) The submission shall include the Chair’s reasons for believing that the Court should take immediate action on the request.

      (B) If the Court agrees that circumstances justify expedited consideration of the request, the Court shall afford such notice and opportunity for comment and hearing as may be practicable.  The Court shall distribute the suggested rule or rule amendment, together with an invitation for comments, as follows:

        (i) Copies to the New Hampshire Bar News;

        (ii) Copies to members of the Advisory Committee on Rules;

        (iii) Copies to the President of the New Hampshire Bar Association; and

        (iv) Copies to such other persons and places as the Chief Justice may direct.

      (C) All comments on the suggested rule or rule amendment shall be submitted in writing to the Supreme Court by the deadline specified by the Court.  All comments shall be available for public review.

 (g) Final Action by the Supreme Court, Publication and Effective Date

    (1) After considering any comments or written or oral testimony received regarding a proposed or suggested rule, the Supreme Court may adopt, amend or reject the rule change or take such other action as the Supreme Court deems appropriate.

    (2) The effective date of all new rules or amendments shall be ordered by the Supreme Court.

    (3) Following adoption of new rules or amendments, the Clerk of the Supreme Court shall promptly cause copies thereof to be distributed.

    (4) The adopted rules shall be posted on the internet sites of the Supreme Court, and an announcement of such publication shall be made in the New Hampshire Bar News.


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