The Superior Court is a statewide court of general jurisdiction and provides jury trials in civil and criminal cases. There are 11 Superior Court sites in New Hampshire, one for each county and two in Hillsborough County.
The Superior Court was established by the legislature in April 1901 when two courts were organized to take the place of the Supreme Court as it then existed.
With that change, the Supreme Court, comprised of a chief justice and four associate justices, was given jurisdiction over what until then had been called "law terms" during which questions of law brought on appeal were heard. The Superior Court was given jurisdiction over trials. The advantage to this system was that a trial courts ruling would be heard by a separate court of appeals of which the trial court judge was not a member.
There are now 18 fulltime judges serving on the Superior Court throughout the state. Under the State constitution, the Governor, with approval of a majority of the Executive Council appoints judges who hold office until they attain the age of 70.
The Superior Court hears the following types of cases:
- Negligence, contracts, real property rights and other civil matters with a minimum claim of $1,500 in damages in which either party requests a trial by jury. The Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases in which the damage claims exceed $25,000.
- Felonies (major crimes such as drugs, burglary, theft and aggravated felonious sexual assault).
- Misdemeanor appeals from the Circuit Court District Division.
The Superior Court also has exclusive jurisdiction over petitions for injunctive relief, in which parties seek a court order to block action, appeals from zoning and planning board decisions, disputes over title to real estate and petitions to enforce contracts.