New Hampshire Supreme Court Extends and Amends Emergency Orders
Limiting In-Person Court Proceedings through September 28, 2020
Following CDC Order, Circuit Courts to Restrict Eviction Hearings until 2021
CONCORD, NH –The New Hampshire Supreme Court issued new orders on Friday, September 4, extending the Courts’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with the Governor’s Declared State of Emergency. In-person proceedings in the Circuit, Superior and Supreme Courts remain limited through Monday, September 28, 2020.
The Circuit Court’s order includes changes to landlord-tenant matters in accordance with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) public health order regarding evictions effective September 4, 2020.
The Circuit Court will require all landlords seeking to evict tenants to file an affidavit that their respective case meets a CDC exemption in order for the eviction proceeding to move forward. This includes cases initiated before September 4, which will also require that the new affidavit be filed.
With respect to the Supreme, Superior, and Circuit Court orders, judges and clerks will be encouraged to continue to conduct court proceedings by telephone, video, teleconferencing, email, or other remote means that do not involve in-person contact, including remote bench trials. However, criminal trials, delinquency/CHINS adjudicatory hearings, child support enforcement hearings, and termination of parental rights hearings will be conducted in person. Additionally, Superior Court is conducting some in-person hearings when counsel shows the necessity for them. The Supreme Court is resuming in-person oral arguments on September 9.
Following a successful pilot jury trial in Cheshire, one criminal jury trial in each of the following counties will be held in October: Strafford, Hillsborough North, Belknap, and Cheshire. Virtual status conference hearings are also being held in civil cases to keep them on track. Parties are encouraged to request status conferences.
The New Hampshire Courts will remain open on a restricted basis but clerk’s offices will not be open to the general public. This means that, from now until Tuesday, September 29, 2020, and/or the last day of a Declared State of Emergency, citizens will not have in-person access to view files or make copies at the courthouses. They can request files electronically through the e-filing portal or by calling the Information Center at 855-212-1234. Courthouses will remain open only for parties of scheduled hearings, those reporting for jury service, those filing for emergency relief, those who are parties to a landlord/tenant case and must file required documents or make rental payments, or for members of the press. Citizens can receive assistance regarding court cases or how to file for emergency relief by contacting the Information Center at 855-212-1234. Circuit, Superior and Supreme Courts all have drop boxes for filing pleadings or emergency filings that are available either outside or in the entranceway of all court facilities.
If you have questions about whether you should go to a courthouse, please call 855-212-1234. More information and the Supreme Court’s extended and amended orders can be found at: https://www.courts.state.nh.us/aoc/corona-covid-19.html#
Tammy L. Jackson
NH Supreme Court
Concord, NH 03301