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Bar News - May 19, 2006


Rules Committee to Consider Fast-Track Discovery Rule

The NH Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules holds a public hearing on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 at 1 p.m. to consider a range of rule changes and amendments, including the establishment of a professionally staffed Lawyers Assistance Program to be funded through an appropriation from the Public Protection Fund.

 

Among the changes to be considered is a rewritten Superior Court 62 that creates a new “fast-track” process for discovery.

           

Following the initial structuring conference, the judge may decide “after consultation with counsel,’ to order the case to proceed under either standard or fast-track discovery based on the following criteria:

 

  • likely amounts in dispute;
  • nature, complexity of issues;
  • resource equality of the parties;
  • “the importance to a just adjudication of permitting discovery beyond that generally permitted under the fast track option.”
  • The proposed Superior Court Rule 62 B sets forth the following timelines and conditions:
  • Once fast-track discovery has been ordered, the parties shall file disclosure statements within 90 days that set forth factual bases for the claim or defense, and the underlying legal theories; witnesses with brief summaries of their expected testimony, along with copies of any written statements; no more than one expert per side, along with disclosures as required undere RSA 516:29-b; trial exhibits list; and documents or other evidence known to exist which the party believes may be relevant.
  • Interrogatories will be limited to 30 per side
  • Requests for admissions limted to 25 per side;
  • Requests for production of documents limited to 10 per side;
  • Depositions limited to the parties, with none to exceed four hours.

 

The Rule concludes with a provision allowing the court to “vary the requirements governing fast track discovery” for good cause.

           

Other rule changes include:

 

Superior Court Rule 96-a governing motions to suppress is proposed to be amended to require that such motions are filed no later than 45 calendar days before the scheduled jury selection date (unless otherwise specified in a pretrial scheduling order), instead of “not later than 10 days after a plea of not guilty is entered.”

           

Rules in the Superior Court and District Court regarding the payment of fines also were revised to account for defendants with inadequate resources, allowing for a community service option as approved by the court.

           

The Advisory Committee also is considering approving several rules, adopted on a temporary basis, in the Superior Court allowing and establishing a process for judge- conducted mediation of complex cases; and, in the Family Division, rules governing decrees, parenting plans, petitions and other forms; and Supreme Court rules regarding financial reporting by judges, and requirements for applications for admission to the Bar by graduates of foreign law schools.

           

The text of the rules proposals is found at www.courts.state.nh.us. Comments may be mailed to the Committee, at the NH Supreme Court, or e-mailed before June 20, 22006 at rulescomment@courts.state.nh.us.

Supreme Court Rule 42(9) requires all NH admitted attorneys to notify the Bar Association of any address change, home or office.

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