Bar News - May 4, 2007
Civil Procedure Rules Slated for Comment
A proposed version of a comprehensive and integrated set of procedural rules for civil cases is being reviewed by the New Hampshire Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules. The Committee is seeking written comments or testimony on the proposal and other rules changes at its semi-annual public hearing on June 6. (See notice on page 29.)
(Meanwhile, in a separate process, the Supreme Court is soliciting written comments on the NH Rules of Professional Conduct proposal by June 1. The proposed ethics code has already been recommended by the Rules Committee and is being proposed for adoption by the Court.)
The development of the procedure rules project arose from a request by Chief Justice John T. Broderick, Jr., in March 2006 to the NHBA Committee on Cooperation with the Courts. He asked the Bar committee to consider updating and simplifying the state’s procedural rules. The civil rules draft was completed first; a draft of rules for criminal cases is in the works.
Highlights of the proposed civil rules include:
- Restructuring the rules to generally follow the organizational scheme of the federal rules of civil procedure.
- Retaining traditional rules of New Hampshire practice.
- Eliminating the distinction between law and equity.
- Providing an outline to make it easier to locate various rules.
David Slawsky, chair of the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts, oversaw the drafting of the civil rules, working closely with attorneys Kimberly Kirkland and Martin Honigberg to refine the proposal. Slawsky said the major template was NH’s current superior court rules rather than a modification of the federal rules, although the proposal uses the federal rules’ organizational scheme. The existing rules have been simplified by eliminating the distinction between law and equity. One of the main aims is to provide a single set of civil rules to govern procedures in all of the state’s trial courts.
Slawsky said a companion part of this proposal is a set of Rules of Probate Administration that cover proceedings unique to the Probate Court.
The proposal submitted to the Advisory Committee was posted earlier this year on the Bar Association Web site, www.nhbar.org, and is also now available at the Court’s Web site, http://www.courts.state.nh.us/.