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IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE JUDICIAL BRANCH RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Judicial Branch Response to COVID-19

Electronic Filing

NHJB Courts are Open on a Restricted Basis

Frequently Asked Questions about the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Operations During COVID-19

Requirements for conducting in-person hearings and bench trials under COVID-19 emergency orders

Fine Payments During COVID-19

Cancellation of Criminal and Civil Jury Trials

Return to Operations Committee Develops Jury Trial Plan

Circuit Court to Expedite Emergency Guardianship over Adults Petitions

How to request documents from Superior Court

Courthouse Lobby Kiosks Currently Not Available

Media Protocol for Court Coverage Due to COVID-19

State and Federal Information on COVID-19

Law Library

For Employees

 

Judicial Branch Response to COVID-19
  • Following emergency orders on March 27 and 28, the New Hampshire Judicial Branch has taken significant steps to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring that the judicial system continues to process cases, keep individuals safe, and perform its mission of providing justice to all citizens.
  • The Supreme, Superior, and Circuit Courts all made adjustments to broaden court operations to allow more cases to be addressed telephonically, by video, and without in-person hearings.
  • While they remain open, physical access to courts has been restricted to emergency cases only at least throughout the month of May.
  • Court staff, including court security officers, clerks/deputy clerks, court assistants, and judges come to work every day to ensure that all citizens with emergency concerns are able to access the courts and receive immediate relief.
  • The Information Center is staffed and continues to answer in excess of 800 calls and emails per day.
  • The New Hampshire Supreme Court task force is meeting on a nearly daily basis to plan for and manage disruptions to our operations related to COVID-19, to monitor federal and state recommendations, to implement guidance, and to communicate with our Court community and our stakeholders throughout the State.
  • The task force monitors the guidance from NH’s Department of Health and Human Services, NH’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Federal Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding COVID-19.
  • The Judicial Branch is an active member participating in the ongoing coordinated communications activities at the State’s Joint Information Center in Concord under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
  • The Judicial Branch is advising Community partners in the civil and criminal justice arenas who have questions about Judicial Branch operations or who wish to share information about anticipated changes to their own operations to reach out through the AOC email address at aoc@courts.state.nh.us.
  • See additional information below on specific services and resources.
Electronic Filing
  • E-filing is possible with any device that has internet access. You are encouraged to e-file from a location other than the courthouse as all court kiosks are currently closed. If you do not have access to a device elsewhere, please file in paper. More detailed instructions are located on the NH Electronic Services webpage. Please call the Trial Court Information Center at 1-855-212-1234 with any questions. 
NHJB Courts are Open on a Restricted Basis
FAQs about the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Operations During COVID-19
  • The judicial system is an essential service and as such is open during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of our courts (Supreme, Superior, and Circuit) are processing cases during this time and are open for limited hearings. Telephone access to our courts is fully available during this time.  For questions related to Superior Court or Circuit Court cases, please call 1-855-212-1234. For questions related to Supreme Court, please contact the clerk’s office at (603) 271-2646.

    For frequently asked questions about each court, see:

Fine Payments During COVID-19
  • During the COVID-19 restricted access period, courthouses will not be accepting in-person fine payments. However, you are still required to pay your fine. Fine payments due from March 30 to May 4, 2020, may either be mailed to the specific court or you can call your credit card information into the court. Locate your circuit court-specific information here and superior court here.
Cancellation of Criminal and Civil Jury Trials
  • In light of public health concerns arising over the coronavirus, please note effective April 16, 2020, all criminal and civil jury trials scheduled in New Hampshire Superior Courts have been cancelled until further notice and will be rescheduled to later dates once normal court operations resume. This means there will be no jury trials until further notice. https://www.courts.state.nh.us/press/2020/Covid19-Juryext.htm
Return to Operations Committee Develops Jury Trial Plan
  • Starting in March, the Superior Court formed a Return to Operations Committee (ROC) charged with developing new processes for the resumption of jury trials as quickly as possible in a manner that does not compromise citizens’ rights while also upholding the court’s responsibility to protect public health in all court facilities. The ROC issued the State Court Jury Trial Plan, which provides a template for initial trials in superior courts across the state, and was developed with input from stakeholders in the legal community, NHJB judges and court staff, and recommendations of the NH Chief Medical Officer that follow CDC guidelines.
Circuit Court to Expedite Emergency Guardianship over Adults Petitions
How to request documents from Superior Court
Courthouse Lobby Kiosks Currently Not Available
  • Following Governor Sununu’s March 13, 2020, declaration of a State of Emergency and pursuant to the emergency powers granted under RSA 490:6-a, the New Hampshire Supreme Court, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, issued an order suspending certain in-person court proceedings through August 17, 2020.  Courthouse lobby kiosks are currently not available; however, you are encouraged to e-file from any other location using any device that can access the internet.  If you do not have access to any device, you may file in paper. If you are requesting emergency relief, you may file at the court, otherwise, mail your filing to the court. Important: If you are suffering from flu-like symptoms or are quarantined or unavailable due to COVID-19 reasons, DO NOT COME TO THE COURTHOUSE. Please call the Court’s Information Center to explain your situation, (1-855-212-1234).
  • How to obtain copies of non-confidential electronic documents:
    • Supreme Court: Call or email the New Hampshire Law Library at 603-271-3777 or lawlibrary@courts.state.nh.us to request copies of specific Supreme Court opinions and court documents, or for assistance with case research. Note: Registered e-filers may access their case documents through the Supreme Court e-filing system here: https://ctefile.nhecourt.us/login
    • Superior and Circuit Courts: Call the Information Center at 1-855-212-1234. Note: Case parties may access their case documents for selected e-filed case types here: https://odypa.nhecourt.us/portal
Media Protocol for Court Coverage Due to COVID-19
  • UPDATED 03/27/20

    In light of CDC guidance on the spread of COVID-19 and social distancing precautions, the Judicial Branch has decided that telephonic monitoring and recording of court hearings continues to be the safest method by which media outlets can inform the public about court proceedings.  The Branch is mindful of the importance of media access to public court proceedings during the pandemic.  In our continuing effort to serve the public, we have updated the protocol to accommodate the media, including photographers and videographers, so that they may attend hearings in person, subject to the procedures and protocols outlined below.

    Pursuant to the Supreme Court's 3/16 Order, in person courtroom proceedings are restricted to attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers, and other necessary persons, as determined by the trial judge. In recognition of the media and the public’s presumptive right of access to court proceedings, the Supreme Court created a protocol to provide the best quality recordings of court proceedings and the speedy distribution to all interested parties.

    Any media outlet that seeks telephonic/electronic access to a court proceeding should contact the Communications Office to make arrangements.  If only one outlet seeks access, it will be provided access to the call. In the event that multiple media outlets request access to a hearing, WMUR will be assigned pool duties to monitor, record and distribute the audio, as their technology meets the standard of high quality recordings and efficient distribution. In the event that WMUR does not intend to cover a hearing that is requested by other media outlets, the outlet best equipped to record and distribute the audio will be designated as the pool. 

    Any media request for in-person attendance at court proceedings, including photographers and videographers, should contact the Communications Office to make arrangements.  If multiple video or photojournalists request access, a pool representative will be designated.  After taking into account the number of parties, counsel, staff and other necessary persons, the presiding judge will determine if the courtroom has sufficient space to allow media attendance while satisfying social distancing guidelines.  Any media permitted access must satisfy the COVID-19 screening requirements at the entrance to the courthouse.

    The Communications Office will continue to work with the media for access to proceedings on a case to case basis, will assist you in gathering case documents and information and will continue to post high profile case documents to our Frequently Requested Cases page on the court’s website.

    See Protocol for Court Coverage Due to Coronavirus COVID-19.

State and Federal Information on COVID-19
Law Library
  • Curbside Pickup

    The Law Library is closed to foot traffic but staff are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by phone or email. Call 603-271-3777 or email lawlibrary@courts.state.nh.us. Beginning Monday, July 6, 2020, the Law Library will be open for curbside pickup from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

  • For a limited time, Lexis Advance is available for free for Law Library patrons. Follow the directions below to access these legal research databases. Visit the Law Library's website for information about how to sign up. 
For Employees
  • COVID-19 NHJB EMPLOYEE FAQs (Updated 08/03/2020)
  • Judicial Branch employees and people who visit the courts are asked to honor the CDC guidance for travelers regarding self-quarantine, social isolation and self-monitoring, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
  • NH Judicial Branch Guidance Regarding Out-of-State Travel
  • Judicial Branch employees are encouraged to follow the guidance from the Public Health community about adopting basic habits as precautions against transmission, including staying at home if you are sick, washing your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds each time, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, liberally using hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available, employing proper sneezing and coughing etiquette, engaging in routine disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces and engaging in social isolation practices.
  • Judicial Branch employees with concerns or questions may also contact Victoria Prestejohn, HR Manager.

 

 

 

 

 

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