Bar News - July 21, 2006
Court's Corner: Supreme Court Address Renamed for Chief Justice Charles Doe
By: Laura Kiernan
The campus of the Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Courts has been renamed Charles Doe Place in honor of the longest serving member of the NH Supreme Court who was hailed for his efforts, more than 100 years ago, to simplify court procedures to make the process more efficient and less expensive. The road leading to the campus will also be renamed Charles Doe Drive.
Chief Justice Doe, who served on the Supreme Court for 35 years, has been described as a brilliant jurist and a modest, kindhearted family man devoted to the principle of equal rights. Described as an inexhaustible researcher and hard worker, 65-year-old Doe died in 1896 as he waited at the Rollinsford railroad station for the morning train to take him to the court in Concord, according to biographer John Phillip Reid.
“He was the unselfish scholar, the dedicated public servant in the best and richest traditions of civilized society,” Reid wrote in his book, “Chief Justice, The Judicial World of Charles Doe,” published in 1967.
The renaming of the road and campus for Chief Justice Doe, approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. John Lynch, became effective July 21, 2006. Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. expressed his thanks to Senate Majority Leader Robert Clegg, Rep. Gene Chandler and to Transportation Commissioner Carol Murray for their support in the court’s effort to rename the road in honor of Doe.
“The Supreme Court, in its ongoing efforts to recognize the contributions of those who have served in the Judicial Branch of New Hampshire, thought it most appropriate to rename the entrance way to the Supreme Court, Charles Doe Drive,” Broderick said.
The new address of the court will be One Charles Doe Drive. The address of the Administrative Office of the Courts will be Two Charles Doe Drive.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Doe worked as a lawyer in Dover and as Strafford County solicitor prior to his appointment to the state’s highest court as an associate justice in 1859 at the age of 29. He returned to private law practice in 1874, during a period of court reorganization, and returned in 1876 as chief justice of the NH Supreme Court, a position he held until his death 20 years later. During his time on the bench, members of the Supreme Court presided at trials in different counties and then sat together to decide appeals. The NH Supreme Court as it is constituted today was established in 1901; at the same time the separate trial court, known as the NH Superior Court, was formed.
A memoir published after his death by his close friend and judicial colleague, Jeremiah Smith, described Doe as a reformer from the beginning of his judicial career who “insisted on having cases tried civilly, expeditiously and upon the merits.” Smith borrowed a metaphor from a profile of an English judge to characterize Doe’s presence in the courtroom as a “healthy breeze in an overladen atmosphere.”
Commenting on Doe’s legacy, Broderick said the jurist remains “a revered chief justice from the 19th Century, whose contributions to the administration of justice were legion and whose judicial decisions remain vital even in this new century.”
Laura Kiernan is the Communications Director, Judicial Branch.