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State of New Hampshire

Judicial Selection in the States: New Hampshire

Overview

News

The West Virginia Senate approved two big changes to the state s judiciary yesterday Judicial Budget Oversight Amendment SJR 3 as approved addresses funding for...

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Over the last several years bills have been introduced in the Rhode Island House to mandate more diversity in the state s courts (see here...

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A plan to give legislative leaders picks on the state s judicial nominating commissions, at the expense of the governor, cleared its first legislative hurdle...

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Courtesy of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of...

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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.