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Bar News - April 17, 2009

Citizens Need Adequately Funded Court System

Lawyers see the severe impact the current and proposed judicial budgets have on the ability of our courts to provide timely service to the public and our clients. Our legislators need to know about that impact. The deteriorating economy has created the financial circumstances that lead to an under-funded justice system at the very time when, more than ever, our citizens need the services and protections the judicial system provides.

Whenever there is economic deterioration, it is the uneducated, the unemployed, the sick, who are the most vulnerable. Courts provide access to justice for all, but particularly for those who bear the greatest burdens and have the fewest resources. The courts can only do this, however, with adequate funds.

We already know of the stress on many families. Increases in divorces and incidents of domestic violence mean that without refuge to the courts, victim suffering will only be prolonged. Spouses will be abused, children unsupported, tenants evicted and homes foreclosed upon. The New Hampshire Legislature has passed laws to minimize or limit these types of harms, but without courts to timely enforce those laws, there is no real benefit from their passage.

An under-funded judiciary only harms those it was designed to serve. This constituency is in greater need of its services today than at any time in the last 50 years.

The Committee on Cooperation with the Courts calls on our lawyer colleagues to speak out on this issue. As individuals with critical knowledge, we have a duty to contact our legislators and make sure each one knows about the human and economic consequences, for their constituents, of inadequate court resources.

Jeanne Herrick, Chair, Committee on Cooperation with the Courts.

Editorís Note: The easiest way to find out who represents you in the NH House and Senate is by inputting your town or city into the webpage at

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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