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Bar News - September 7, 2007

NH Supreme Court Releases Judicial Evaluations


Last month the New Hampshire Supreme Court released its seventh annual report of the revised judicial performance evaluation program. The report covers all judicial branch courts, and ratings are composed of performance evaluation questionnaires from the public, self-evaluation forms, and an evaluation summary from the administrative judge conducting the evaluation.


The Supreme, superior, district, and probate courts all faired relatively equally, with average ratings above 4-points. The family division, with an average rating of 3.9, fell slightly behind, but still maintained a healthy, “very good,” rating.


Ratings are based on a five-point system with 1 being Unsatisfactory and 5 being Excellent. Rated categories include: application of law; temperament and demeanor; judicial management skills; legal knowledge; bias and objectivity; and degree of preparedness.


The evaluations are to be conducted for every judge, every three years. Both justices and marital masters were unnamed in the report. The superior courts evaluated seven justices and one marital master. The district courts evaluated 16 justices. The probate courts evaluated three justices and the family court evaluated three marital masters.


In the 2008 report, new NH judges, and judges and masters not rated this year, will be evaluated.


The NHBA Bar News has summarized the 2007 report written by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John T. Broderick, Jr. The results are as follows:


Supreme Court


The Supreme Court performance evaluation was judged by how well the Court stood on a set of time standards that included: Screening; Filing of appellant’s briefs; filing of appellee’s brief; Oral Argument; Opinion/Decision; and Ruling on motions for reconsideration/rehearing. The results for all cases disposed in 2006 are as follows:


Superior Court


The overall mean for the eight judicial officers being evaluated was 4.2, with four scoring equal to or above the mean, and four scoring below the mean. An overall average score of 4.2 puts the superior court justices and masters evaluated at the “very good” level.


District Courts


The average overall score for the judges evaluated at the District Court level was 4.2, or “very good.”


Based upon their evaluation results, two judges will be reevaluated during 2008, ahead of the normal schedule. Both judges will be required to take corrective action addressing several deficiencies noted in the reviews.


Family Division


The average overall score for the marital masters evaluated in the Family Courts was 3.9, balancing between “very good” and “satisfactory.”


The Administrative Judge of the Family Division will be evaluating three masters in 2007, which includes one newly hired master, and, based upon evaluations results, one master will be re-evaluated during 2007, ahead of the normal schedule.      


Probate Court


The average overall score for the evaluated Probate Court judges was 4.5, or “very good.”


The report ends with a statement from Chief Justice Broderick: “Last year, I concluded this report by referring to a recommendation of the New Hampshire Citizen’s Commission on the State Courts that the judicial branch create a customer-service-based court environment. We have taken steps in that direction, and I take this opportunity to thank the Legislature and the Governor for their foresight in the just-completed budget process in appropriating funds for the addition of nine new case managers in our courts to help provide enhanced customer service. Still, at the center of the judicial branch’s interaction with the public are our judges and marital masters. It is with great pride that I am able to report to you again that the public continues to rate the performance of our judges and martial masters at a very high level.”



Time Standard   

Average for all Cases 


90 days

48 days

Filing of appellant’s brief 

60 days after record filed   

53 days 

Filing of appellee’s brief 

50 days after appellant’s brief 

42 days

Oral Argument 

180 days after appellant’s brief

133 days


180 days after oral argument or submission  

80 days

Ruling on motions for reconsideration/rehearing

60 days

32 days











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