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Monday, December 22, 2008

New Hampshire Courts in the L.A. Times

Bob Drogin of the Los Angeles Times leads off his report on courts across the country facing tight budgets with a look at New Hampshire's decision to suspend jury trials in Feburary:
Financially strapped New Hampshire has become a poster child for the problem. Among other cost-cutting measures, state courts will halt for a month all civil and criminal jury trials early next year to save $73,000 in jurors' per diems. Officials warn they may add another four-week suspension.

"It brings our system almost to a screeching halt," said county prosecutor James M. Reams. His aides are scrambling to reschedule 77 criminal trials that were on the February docket.

"All the effort to subpoena witnesses and prepare for those trials is right out the window," Reams said, frustration in his voice. "Internally, it's a monumental waste of time. We'll have to redo everything."
Drogan also quotes Chief Justice John Broderick, repeating his concerns about the judicial system:
John T. Broderick, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, has carved $2.7 million from the judicial budget. In addition to the one-month halt in jury trials and trimming back courtroom security, seven of the state's 59 judgeships will be left vacant through June, when the fiscal year ends. Three of the empty slots are in trial courts.

Worse, Broderick said, he may need to suspend jury trials for another month, and leave open a Supreme Court slot after one of the five justices retires in February. It is the state's only appellate court.

"In my 36 years here as a lawyer and judge, I've never felt as insecure about the state courts in terms of operations and resources as I do now," Broderick said.


  1. Let's do a thought experiment.

    What would happen if anti-government activists started performing acts of civil disobedience, and demanding jury trials?

    For example, what if people started giving manicures without a license, refusing petty code enforcement orders, or simply possessing a trace amount of a Forbidden Plant?

    What if 647 people (or more) started performing non-violent, victimless "crimes" like these... and demanded jury trials?

  2. News out on the 101st night of Barack Obama's presidency that Supreme Court Justice David Hackett Souter has informed the White House that he will retire soon.

    Retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter

    The 69-year-old jurist from New Hampshire was named to the court in 1990 by Bush I, who hoped his nominee would be a conservative. The president was sadly disappointed. Instead, Souter proved to be a centrist, leaning more liberal recently.

    Souter will finish out the court's current term, which will be issuing major decisions come summer. And he reportedly has agreed to stay on until a successor is confirmed by the Senate.

    Born in Massachusetts the son of a banker, Souter lived much of his childhood on a family farm in New Hampshire.

    After a Harvard education and Rhodes scholarship, he spent a career in private practice, the state attorney general's office, state courts and, briefly, as a federal appeals court judge,

    Souter filled the Supreme Court seat held by Justice William Brennan.


    Drug Intervention New Hampshire-Drug Intervention New Hampshire