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Bar News - November 9, 2007

Court Security Pilot Program—Six-Month Update



Hillsborough County Sheriff James Hardy at his office in Manchester

As you all know, there is a court security pilot program in Hillsborough County Superior Court South.  The program has been in place for six months now and I wanted to find out how it has been received by the courts, the sheriffs and the members.


The court security pilot program was implemented in cooperation with the administrative judges and Hillsborough County Sheriff James Hardy. Past President Rich McNamara led the effort on behalf of the Association. 


The Bar Association commends Sheriff Hardy for establishing the pilot program in the Hillsborough South courthouse. After reviewing the first six months of the program, the Bar Association congratulates Sheriff Hardy on the success of the court security program in Hillsborough South.


To date, 262 security cards have been issued to members.  There have been random security checks without incident. The program is working fantastically. Sheriff Hardy states, “There have not been any complaints.  There have not been any problems.”


In fact, both members and court security state that this procedure has reduced the volume and the wait to enter the courthouse, especially on jury days.


Members obtain a security card from the court officers in Hillsborough South.  To receive the card, each member must sign an agreement stating that he/she will not violate court security rules, will not bring any weapons or items not allowed into the courthouse and will submit to a random security check, if chosen. 


Each morning, the chief court officer chooses a number for random security checks.  For example, if the random number is eight, then the eighth attorney who enters the courthouse submits to a random security check.  These numbers are recorded in a log book.


Sheriff Hardy agreed to be the first county sheriff to implement the pilot program because it is a “recognition that the courthouse is a neutral environment and we need to be careful to maintain a neutral environment.”  He further states, “It is also a recognition that attorneys are officers of the court and we think that we can maintain a safe environment and a neutral environment.”  


Should an attorney breach the agreement, there are penalties.  Sheriff Hardy states that “If someone violates the rules, there is recourse.  We recall the card.” 


From an infrastructure standpoint, this program was easy to implement in Nashua.  Although it is more difficult in older court facilities, Sheriff Hardy looks forward to expanding the program in Hillsborough County, noting that its benefits may one day be replicated in other counties. Past President McNamara continues to work with Sheriff Hardy towards this effort.  


It is obvious from the reports of members and the court officers that the first six months of the pilot program have been successful.  The program has served as a benefit to the courthouse, court security, the members and the public.  It is also a tremendous example of a cooperative effort by the Bar Association, Sheriff James Hardy and the administrative judges.  This pilot program could not have been accomplished without their working together towards this goal. 


I look forward to reporting to you on the success of the pilot program at the one- year mark. Perhaps at that point, I will be able to report that other courthouses are successfully implementing the program that has had so much success in Hillsborough County Superior Court South to date.


Eleanor Wm.  Dahar, of Dahar Professional Association in Manchester, is the 2007-08 NH Bar President.


If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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