Bar Journal - March 1, 2000
By: Attorneys Daniel D. Crean & Susan E. Marshall
This issue of the Bar Journal explores various aspects of the legislative process in New Hampshire, ranging from the perspectives of the late "Dean" of the Senate to analyses of recent enactments. As the General Court now conducts its business on the basis of annual sessions, it can be expected that legislation will assume ever increasing importance in the daily activities of New Hampshire's legal community. The array of topics addressed in this issue is intended to provide guidance, both practical and theoretical, in responding to legislative enactments emanating from the State House in Concord.
Our first article presents the reflections of Senator Clesson "Junie" Blaisdell on the changes in the Legislature and the legislative process. It is a fitting tribute to his honor that his perspectives, as relayed to Attorney Anne Davidson, lead off this issue.
The statutory law, as enacted by the New Hampshire General Court and the United States Congress, is one of the fundamental sources consulted by anyone concerned with a legal matter. This issue contains a group of three articles concerned with researching New Hampshire statutory law. This set of articles is intended to give an overview of various research techniques and resources for the novice, as well as the experienced, practitioner. These "how to" articles, written by Cynthia Landau from Franklin Pierce Law Library, give the basics and many particulars about doing research in the New Hampshire statutes.
The first article, "Using Print Resources to Research the New Hampshire Statutes," focuses on common, and not so common, techniques for a researcher using printed resources. After a brief general discussion of the publication and content of the current New Hampshire statutes, the article details various approaches to finding and updating applicable statutes and interpretive materials.
In the second article, "Researching New Hampshire's Version of Uniform and Model Laws," the author discusses how to locate and research uniform or model laws. Anyone interested in interpretation of New Hampshire's Uniform Commercial Code and the New Hampshire Criminal Code will find useful historical background and specific research techniques in this article.
The third article, "Researching New Hampshire Statutes Electronically," deals with online research services and techniques. After giving an overview of the various electronic databases available, the author describes how to find a statute electronically and goes on discuss the commonality of search techniques among the various electronic services. A series of charts highlights common points and differences in these search techniques. The article also includes information on how to validate a statute electronically. Online research is likely to become more and more popular in the future. This article can be a useful reference for an online researcher accustomed to using a particular service who would like to compare it with other available services or for anyone considering using electronic resources. Even though the possibilities of electronic research are constantly in flux, many of the basic techniques described in this article are likely to remain constant.
Attorney Susan Marshall and Cynthia Landau next provide an overview of the evolution of the compilations and codifications of state legislative enactments and a guide to understanding the organizational structure of the current code, the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated.
Legislative power, as demonstrated by the recent educating funding cases, is not without its limits. The interplay between the New Hampshire Constitution and legislation is the subject of Professor Richard Hesse's article.
Once a statute is enacted, it is subject to interpretation by those charged with its enforcement and administration and ultimately by the judiciary. Principles governing the interpretation of statutes by the judicial branch are surveyed by Attorney Daniel Crean.
The next two articles address specific legislative enactments. First, Attorney Dyana Crahan Tull explores judicial decisions concerning the interplay between statutes relating to reporting of child abuse and nondiscrimination in the context of school district liability. Terry Knowles, the Registrar of Charitable Trusts at the Attorney General's Office, dissects the new Community Benefits Law, legislation intended to provide a means for the general public to participate in the determination of whether a health care charitable trust satisfies its responsibilities to provide community benefits.
Trying to find a new and clever way to introduce Charles DeGrandpre's Lex Loci is a fruitless task. His summaries of recent court actions, as usual, speak volumes for themselves, and the editors are indebted to him, as they are to all the authors who contributed to make this issue readable, enlightening and educational.
Attorney Daniel D. Crean is a sole practitioner, Concord, New Hampshire.
Attorney Susan E. Marshall is a freelance legal writer and former Deputy Director of New Hampshire Legislative Services, Concord, New Hampshire.