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Bar News - April 17, 2009

Morning Mail: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

A recent report in the Manchester newspaper raised my ire. It seems a divorcing couple had a custody hearing and then waited months to receive the Court order, with the attendant uncertainty and tension, only to find the Order dated two days after the hearing. This is not unusual according to lawyers and litigants I know.

Then we learn that, because of lack of funding, jury trials are being suspended for a month and we will consolidate some district courts. Suspending jury trials will simply increase the backlog and closing district courts will shift reasonable access and put additional burdens on law enforcement, prosecutors and litigants. Maybe judges could ride circuit to alleviate the situation. Our courts should provide reasonable access, fairness and timeliness. Justice delayed is justice denied.

It is my understanding that, under the Constitution, the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are co-equal. The judicial branch has a separate and independent function from the other branches. Granted its funding is dependent upon the legislative branch. However, it is not and should not be simply treated as just another agency of government.

I believe it is time, under the leadership of the Governor, to appoint a blue-ribbon committee to independently examine and review the mission of the courts, their organization and staffing needs with judges, clerks, and support personnel , facilities, staffing and equipment needs. It should also review whether the tendency to social engineering is an appropriate judicial function.

Such a committee could then provide a road map for the administration of justice in New Hampshire and its funding needs to the legislature. Most of all, this should affirm that the judicial branch is a co-equal of the other government branches and its need to fulfill its mission should be funded accordingly.

I believer there is some urgency in addressing these issues. The Bar Association should take a leadership role in pursuing this matter.

Fred W. Hall, Jr.

P.S. I have recently retired after 60 years at the Bar and probably should just go out to pasture with the other old horses.

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