THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

O R D E R

Pursuant to Part II, Article 73-a of the New Hampshire Constitution and Supreme Court Rule 51, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire approves adoption of an amendment, on a temporary basis, to Supreme Court Rule 3 as set forth in Appendix A; adoption of an amendment, on a temporary basis, to Supreme Court Rule 54(4) as set forth in Appendix B; adoption of an amendment, on a temporary basis, to Supreme Court Rule 56 as set forth in Appendix C; adoption of an amendment, on a temporary basis, to Superior Court Administrative Rule 12-6 as set forth in Appendix D; adoption of an amendment, on a temporary basis, to Probate Court Rule 91 as set forth in Appendix E; adoption of an amendment, on a temporary basis, to the Family Division Pilot Program Rule entitled "Adoption, Termination of Parental Rights, and Guardianships over Minors" as set forth in Appendix F; and adoption of a technical amendment to Supreme Court Rule 26(1) as set forth in Appendix G. These amendments shall take effect immediately, and the amendments in Appendices A, B, C, D, E and F shall be referred to the Advisory Committee on Rules for consideration of whether they should be adopted on a permanent basis.

April 21, 2004

ATTEST: ___________________________

Eileen Fox, Clerk

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

 

APPENDIX A

Amend the definition of "Mandatory appeal" in Supreme Court Rule 3 on a temporary basis, so that said definition shall state as follows:

"Mandatory appeal": A mandatory appeal shall be accepted by the supreme court for review on the merits. A mandatory appeal is an appeal filed by the State pursuant to RSA 606:10, or an appeal from a final decision on the merits issued by a superior court, district court, probate court, or family division court, that is in compliance with these rules, other than the following:

(1) an appeal from a final decision on the merits issued in a post-conviction review proceeding (including petitions for writ of habeas corpus and motions for new trial);

(2) an appeal from a final decision on the merits issued in a collateral challenge to any conviction or sentence;

(3) an appeal from a final decision on the merits issued in a sentence modification or suspension proceeding;

(4) an appeal from a final decision on the merits issued in an imposition of sentence proceeding;

(5) an appeal from a final decision on the merits issued in a parole revocation proceeding; and

(6) an appeal from a final decision on the merits issued in a probation revocation proceeding.

 

APPENDIX B

Amend Supreme Court Rule 54(4) on a temporary basis by deleting said paragraph and replacing it with the following:

    (4) An administrative council is established to facilitate communications among the various courts and the administrative office of the courts. Membership on the council shall include each administrative judge and the director of the administrative office of the courts. The chief justice of the supreme court shall designate an associate justice to serve as liaison between the supreme court and the administrative council. The administrative council shall meet regularly maintaining a flexible agenda, providing the opportunity to exchange views, measure progress, resolve conflicts, receive recommendations from the policy formulation committees and make recommendations to the supreme court. The administrative council shall keep the supreme court apprised of matters being considered by the council and shall meet periodically with the supreme court to enhance the effective and efficient administration of the judicial branch.

 

APPENDIX C

Amend Supreme Court Rule 56 on a temporary basis by deleting said rule and replacing it with the following:

RULE 56. PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF JUDGES

(I) Administration and Implementation of a Performance Evaluation Program

(A) The supreme court shall be responsible for the overall administration of a judicial performance evaluation program. On or before June 30 of each year, it shall prepare an annual report on the implementation and operation of the judicial performance evaluation program for public distribution and filing with the governor, the speaker of the house, the president of the senate and the chairpersons of the house and senate judiciary committees. The report shall include a summary of the number of evaluations performed by each court, the number of questionnaires distributed and returned, and, without identifying individual judges or marital masters who were evaluated, a summary of the results of the evaluations.

(B) The administrative judges of the superior, district and probate courts shall be responsible for implementing the judicial performance evaluation program in those courts. They shall have the authority and the duty to:

            (1) consult with the supreme court about the design of the questionnaires to be distributed to a representative selection of attorneys, parties, witnesses, jurors, court personnel and others who have appeared before the judge or marital master being evaluated, to assess whether the judge or marital master has met the applicable judicial performance standards during the evaluation period;

            (2) consult with the supreme court about the adoption of written protocol setting forth the procedure for distributing the questionnaires described in subsection (1), including the number of questionnaires to be distributed, the process for selecting the persons who will be sent the questionnaires, the manner for distribution and return of the questionnaires and the process for compiling the results of the questionnaires;

            (3) consult with the supreme court about the design of a self-evaluation form to be completed by each judge or marital master being evaluated, which attempts to assess whether the judge or marital master has met the applicable judicial performance standards during the evaluation period;

            (4) consult with the supreme court about the judicial performance standards applicable to the judges or marital masters of each court;

            (5) consult with the supreme court about the development or identification of suitable programs to assist judges or marital masters who have not met the applicable judicial performance standards to do so; and

            (6) consult with the supreme court about the advisability of other administrative action to address the performance problems of any judge or marital master that are identified through the evaluation process or otherwise.

(II) Evaluation of Trial Court Judges and Marital Masters

(A) Persons Performing Evaluations; Frequency of Evaluations

        The administrative judge of the superior court, or the administrative judge's designee, shall evaluate each justice and marital master of the superior court a minimum of once every three years.

        The administrative judge of the district court, or the administrative judge's designee, shall evaluate each full-time and part-time district court judge a minimum of once every three years.

        The administrative judge of the probate court, or the administrative judge's designee, shall evaluate each full-time and part-time probate court judge a minimum of once every three years.

        A panel consisting of the chief justice of the supreme court and two associate justices of the supreme court shall evaluate the administrative judges of the superior, district and probate courts a minimum of once every three years.

(B) Components of Evaluation

        The judicial evaluation process is intended to evaluate a judge's or marital master's performance in relation to the applicable judicial performance standards. The person performing the evaluation shall attempt to obtain balanced information from multiple sources to accurately assess the judge's or marital master's performance during the evaluation period. The evaluation process of an individual judge or marital master shall include, but not be limited to, the following steps:

            (1) review of complaints about the judge or marital master that have been docketed by the supreme court's committee on judicial conduct and that are public records under Rule 40;

            (2) review of the results of the completed questionnaires sent to a representative sample of persons who appeared before the judge or marital master during the evaluation period;

            (3) review of the self-evaluation form completed by the judge or marital master; and

            (4) review of any complaints or inquiries about the judge or marital master received by the administrative judge or chief justice.

(C) Results of Evaluation and Meeting with Judge or Marital Master Who Has Been Evaluated

            (1) The person performing the evaluation shall prepare a summary of the results of the evaluation, which describes the judge's or marital master's performance in relation to the judicial performance standards, and which identifies any judicial performance standard that has not been met and sets forth the steps the judge or marital master must take to improve his or her performance.

            (2) The person performing the evaluation shall meet with the judge or marital master who has been evaluated to discuss the results of the evaluation, to advise the judge or marital master whether the judge or marital master has met the applicable judicial performance standards, and, if not, to identify the steps that the judge or marital master must take to improve his or her performance.

            (3) At the conclusion of the meeting, the judge or marital master who has been evaluated shall sign the evaluation summary, indicating that he or she has been informed of the results of the evaluation and has been given a copy of the evaluation summary.

            (4) Within 30 days of the meeting, the judge or marital master who has been evaluated may submit a written response to the evaluation. The response shall be kept with the evaluation summary.

(D) Failure to Meet Judicial Performance Standards

            (1) If the person performing the evaluation concludes that a judge or marital master has failed to meet a judicial performance standard, he or she shall prepare a written summary identifying the performance standard that has not been met and specifying the steps that the judge or marital master must take to improve his or her performance and the time in which the steps must be taken.

            (2) If a judge or marital master has been determined not to have met a judicial performance standard, then the chief justice or the administrative judge of the court on which the evaluated judge or marital master serves shall, to the extent possible, assist the judge or marital master to comply with the steps set forth in the evaluation summary for improving the judge's or marital master's performance.

            (3) If a judge or marital master has failed to take the steps to improve his or her performance specified in the evaluation summary, the chief justice or the administrative judge of the court on which the judge or marital master serves may take steps to correct the non-compliance, including administrative discipline, and may take whatever other steps are necessary to ensure compliance and/or may report the failure to the committee on judicial conduct.

(III) Evaluation of Supreme Court Justices

    The supreme court shall design a questionnaire to be distributed every three years to a representative selection of attorneys and parties who appeared before the court to assess the performance of the court during this period.

    The court will adopt relevant objective appellate court performance standards and regularly evaluate its performance according to such standards.

    Each justice shall complete a self-evaluation form designed to assess whether the justice has met the applicable judicial performance standards during the evaluation period.

    The justices shall meet annually to evaluate each other's performance.

(IV) Confidentiality

        (A) General Rule. Except as otherwise provided in this section, all records and information obtained and maintained during the judicial performance evaluation process shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed. The identity of persons who furnished information concerning judges under the program shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed.

        (B) Exceptions to Confidentiality Requirement.

            (1) Disclosure to Judge or Marital Master Being Evaluated. Information about the results of the questionnaires or other components of the evaluation process of an individual judge or marital master may be disclosed to the judge or marital master for the purpose of improving his or her judicial performance, except that the identity of persons furnishing information about the judge or marital master shall not be disclosed.

            (2) Disclosure to Other Judges Assisting in Evaluation Process. The person performing the evaluation may share the results of the evaluation with other judges for the purpose of assisting in the evaluation process.

            (3) If A Judge or Marital Master Fails to Meet Judicial Evaluation Standards or Purposely Fails to Complete Improvement Programs. If a judge or marital master fails to meet judicial performance standards for two consecutive performance evaluations, or if a judge or marital master purposely fails to complete the steps for improving his or her performance specified in the evaluation summary, the judge or marital master shall be deemed to have waived any right to confidentiality provided for by this rule, and the results of the judge's or marital master's evaluations shall become public, with the exception of the identity of persons furnishing information about the judge or marital master.

            (4)  If A Judge or Marital Master is Being Considered or is Nominated for Another Judicial Position.  If a judge or marital master is being considered for another judicial position, the judge or marital master may authorize the release of the results of his or her judicial performance evaluations to the governor and to any agency or commission authorized to investigate the qualifications of judicial candidates, provided that they shall be required to keep the contents of the evaluations in strict confidence.   Upon nomination of a judge or marital master, the results of his or her judicial performance evaluations shall be made available to the governor and executive council upon request.  The contents of such evaluations shall be kept in strict confidence by the governor and executive council.

(V) Retention of Records of Judicial Performance Evaluations

    The judicial performance evaluation summaries of a judge or marital master shall be retained while the judge or marital master remains in state judicial service.

 

APPENDIX D

Amend Superior Court Administrative Rule 12-6 on a temporary basis by deleting the last sentence of the rule, so that said rule as amended shall state:

12-6. All Marital Masters shall be appointed for a five-year period, and must file a request with the Masters Committee no later than 90 days prior to the expiration date of their appointment, if they wish to be reappointed.

 

APPENDIX E

Amend Probate Court Rule 91 on a temporary basis by deleting said rule and replacing it with the following:

Rule 91. Adoption of Foreign-Born Child

   A. Unless the Court orders otherwise, for purposes of RSA 170-B:6, VI, any one of the following documents, which indicate that the child is a foreign adoptee (IR-3 status) or the subject of a foreign guardianship awarded for the purpose of the child's adoption in the United States (IR-4 status), will be accepted by the Court as evidence that the parental rights of the parents of the proposed adoptee have been voluntarily or involuntarily terminated by the proper authorities in a foreign country:

        1. An attested or certified copy of the adoptee's Certificate of Citizenship issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

        2. An attested or certified copy of the proposed adoptee's alien registration card indicating either IR-3 or IR-4 status.

        3. An attested or certified copy of the proposed adoptee's passport issued in his/her country of birth, with the U.S. Visa stamp affixed indicating either IR-3 or IR-4 status.

   B. Unless the Court orders otherwise, for purposes of RSA 170-B:22, II, any of the documents specified in section A above, except those bearing an IR-4 status, are acceptable documentation and satisfactory evidence to establish the validity of a foreign adoption.

  C. The attestation or certification of the copies deemed acceptable under the preceding sections shall be by a notary public commissioned under the laws of the jurisdiction where the act occurs and shall be substantially in the following form:

        "A true copy attest

                                ____________________________________________
                                Notary Public
                                My Commission Expires:_____________________
                                Affix Notarial Seal Here"

or, alternatively,

    "I hereby certify that I have personally examined and compared this copy against the original instrument and find this copy to be a true copy of the original in every respect save this certification.


                                ___________________________________________
                                Notary Public
                                My Commission Expires:_____________________
                                Affix Notarial Seal Here"

 

APPENDIX F

Amend the Family Division Pilot Program Rule entitled "Adoption, Termination of Parental Rights, and Guardianships over Minors" on a temporary basis by deleting said rule and replacing it with the following:

 

ADOPTION, TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS, AND GUARDIANSHIPS OVER MINORS

    
    Probate Court Rules applicable to adoptions, termination of parental rights, and guardianships over minors cases shall be deemed the rules of the family division and are incorporated herein by reference, with the exception that the additional filing fee of $5.00 for each of these cases adopted pursuant to RSA 490:27, effective July 14, 2002, for probate court mediation shall not apply until such time as RSA 490:27 is amended.

 

APPENDIX G

Amend Supreme Court Rule 26(1) by deleting said paragraph and replacing it with the following:

(1) Papers required or permitted to be filed in this court shall be filed with the clerk of this court and shall be upon good quality, nonclinging paper 8 1/2 by 11 inches in size. With the exception of documents attached to a filing, the type used in all filings shall consist of standard size typewriter characters or size 12 font. Filing may be accomplished by first class mail addressed to the clerk of this court, but filing shall not be timely unless the papers are received by the clerk within the time fixed by rule or law. Filings postmarked at least 2 days prior to the time fixed by rule or law shall be deemed timely.