Judicial Selection in the States: New Hampshire
December 17, 2010 :: Boston Globe
The top judge of New Hampshire's superior court will be sworn in as a justice of the state Supreme Court.
Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...
The New Hampshire judiciary consists of a supreme court, a superior court, a district court, and a probate court. The district and probate courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. New Hampshire judges are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the executive council, a five-member body elected by the people to advise the governor. In 2000, Governor Shaheen became the first New Hampshire governor to create a judicial nominating commission by executive order. In 2005, Governor Lynch followed her example with an executive order creating a judicial selection commission.
In 2000, four justices of the New Hampshire Supreme Court came under fire. One justice resigned, two others faced impeachment hearings, and a fourth was impeached but not convicted. These events prompted a series of reform proposals, including the governor's judicial selection commission, aimed at strengthening the public's confidence in the judiciary. Two reform efforts succeeded: a requirement that justices of the supreme court serve as chief justice for rotating five-year terms based on seniority, and the creation of an independent disciplinary panel for judges. Failed proposals included the establishment of a judicial nominating commission by constitutional amendment or statute, renewable terms for judges, regular judicial performance review, and senate confirmation of judicial nominees.