Bar News - March 23, 2007
Minority Report: Deadversarialize Family Law
A minority report, authored by attorney Stephen Borfosky, recently was published in conjunction with the report by the NH Supreme Court Commission on the Status of the Legal Profession.
Borofsky, while concurring with most of the recommendations of the commission (Visit www.nhbar.org for the complete report , a 43-page PDF, and the minority report , a 9-page document), differed with the Commission on its emphasis on the adoption of a “civil Gideon” right to representation for critical civil matters. He called it “a wonderful aspirational goal, but not a realistic goal.”
The problems of the overburdened courts, he suggests, could be addressed by:
- Creating new means of handling the majority of family law cases along the lines of administrative law cases, as social security appeals are handled, where the decision-maker—in this case, the marital masters—have authority to collect evidence, and also allow representation by paralegals.
- Adoption of a unified jurisdiction court rather than an “integrated” court that would allow judges to be deployed where needed, and speed implementation of administrative and technological improvements.
The minority report contains a number of other suggestions, including quality control of the legal profession, and raises the issue of whether there are too many lawyers in New Hampshire.