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Frequently Asked Questions about the New Hampshire Superior Court Operations During COVID-19

1. Are all of the Superior Courts processing cases?
Yes.  All of our courts are staffed and processing cases though most hearings are conducted remotely at this time.  We are continuing to follow all CDC guidance to keep everyone safe, which requires social distancing and teleworking when possible.  Since we are a fully electronic court, our staff and judges can work remotely.   Judges continue to rule on emergency pleadings, take misdemeanor pleas without a hearing, rule on motions and review warrants.  Our court staff continues to accept pleadings electronically, send out notices and move cases forward whether they are in court or working remotely. Every court has staff and judges to handle emergency hearings and telephonic or video hearings daily.

2. Is the Superior Court conducting any hearings?
The Superior Court is conducting in-person hearings for emergency matters and time-sensitive subjects that involve people’s liberty, such as bail hearings, plea hearings that result in the release of a defendant and other criminal and civil matters the parties deem urgent.  For example, a pretrial hearing to resolve issues that would help the parties settle a case may constitute an urgent matter.  If you are unsure please contact the clerk of court in the court in which your case was filed.  You may reach the clerk by contacting the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234.

3. What about my deadlines for filing or responding to a motion? Have those been moved?
All deadlines set forth in court rules, court orders, statutes, ordinances, administrative rules, administrative orders or otherwise that were moved to May 4 are still in effect.  Filings which would have a response come due after the May 4 extension have not had their deadlines changed.

  • Example 1: If a motion to dismiss was filed on April 4, your 10-day deadline to respond was extended to May 4.
  • Example 2: If a motion to dismiss was filed on April 28, which falls before the May 4 extension ends, your deadline to respond remains 10 days or May 8.
  • Example 3: If a motion to dismiss was filed on May 8, which fall after the May 4 extension ends, your deadline to respond remains 10 days or May 16.

Please note that the first two emergency orders did not toll the deadlines, but instead extended the deadlines to May 4, 2020. 

4. How do I get access to Superior Court case files before June 1?
The Superior Court has updated its online portal to expand free access to some electronic files. This means parties in selected criminal or civil case can access files in their case by following directions at https://odypa.nhecourt.us/portal. Case summaries of all non-confidential cases will also available online to anyone.  If the information you seek is not available to you on the portal, you can call the Information Center to request help accessing case information at 1-855-212-1234, but because of high volumes of calls, there may be a delay before we can fulfill your request.

5. What if I am willing to have my non-emergency hearing conducted by video or telephonically?
We will conduct any hearings by video or telephonically if you contact the clerk of court to make the request. You may reach the clerk by contacting the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234.

6. If I have to go to a court for an emergency hearing, what can I expect at the courthouse door?
All courthouse locations are conducting screenings to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The screening questions you will have to answer are: 

  • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
  • Have you had a fever or felt feverish in the past 72 hours?
  • Are you experiencing respiratory symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath?  
  • Are you experiencing any new muscle aches or chills?
  • Have you experienced any new change in your sense of taste or smell?”
  • Have you traveled outside New England in the last 14 days?

7. When will my jury trial occur?
Since March 2020, the Court has closely monitored the guidance provided by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and we have consulted with the State of New Hampshire Chief Medical Director. Consistent with the continued guidance from health officials and the current COVID-19 data, the Court has decided to resume jury operations. In accordance with Federal guidelines, the Court is phasing in jury trials, beginning in counties with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases. You will receive a scheduling notice when jury trials resume in your county.

8.  Is the Superior Court conducting grand jury proceedings?
Since March 2020, the Court has closely monitored the guidance provided by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and consulted with the State of New Hampshire Chief Medical Director. Consistent with the continued guidance from health officials and the current COVID-19 data, the Court has decided to resume grand jury proceedings. Preparations are currently underway in each county that will allow the grand jury to convene in a manner that addresses the health, safety, and welfare of all participants in the grand jury process. Grand jury proceedings began in mid-August in many of the Superior Courts and a statewide grand jury for counties that cannot hold proceedings in their facilities will begin in Merrimack County Superior Court in September. 

 

 

 

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