Bar News - May 5, 2006
Third Judges OK’d for Manchester, Nashua District Courts
Relief appears to be on the way for the state’s busiest district courts in Manchester and Nashua, as both legislative chambers have voted for SB 284, which would authorize third full-time judgeships for each court.
The Senate bill would make the change effective upon passage, but the House version differs, changing the effective date to July 1, 2007, the beginning of the next fiscal year. If the Senate does not concur with the House bill, the legislation would be put before a committee of conference with members from both chambers meeting to propose a remedy. Whatever the outcome, the decision will be made by mid-May, said State Senator Joseph Foster, of Nashua, a co-sponsor of the bill. He said that even if the positions are not authorized until July 1, 2007, the governor could begin the screening and nomination process before that, and could have confirmed candidates ready to start on July 1.
Area legislators have attempted several times in the past to obtain approval for additional judgeships in those courts. Currently the court uses part-time judges to hear matters as needed to supplement the full-time judges in those courts. In 2005, 27 different part-time judges heard cases in Nashua, and Manchester had 21 different part-time judges sitting in.
The language of the bill also creates a third full-time judgeship in Concord, but Howard Zibel, Supreme Court general counsel and legislative liaison, said that will not have a practical impact, since a third full-time judge assigned to Concord, Hon. Susan B. Carbon, has already been appointed, but she sits only part of the time in District Court and also hears matters in the Family Division.
According to a Nashua Telegraph article, the net annual cost of the two new judges would be about $150,000. Court administrators estimate salary and benefits for each judge is $180,000 a year, but that expense would be offset by the reduction in per-day payments for part-time judges of about $105,000 annually.