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Bar News - December 18, 2009

Judge McNamara Heeds Advice of Business Section


New procedural rules for the Business and Commercial Docket of the Superior Court (Superior Court Rule 214), effective Dec. 1, 2009, incorporated suggestions made by members of the NHBA Business Litigation Section at a meeting held just one week earlier.

Hon. Richard B. McNamara, presiding judge of the new business court, came to the meeting to solicit input from practitioners. True to his word, he listened, making sure that their concerns were incorporated into the rules. One of the major points of discussion at the Nov. 18 meeting was a perceived need to bring cases requiring immediate action - such as requests for preliminary injunctions - to the business docket, instead of going to the equity division of the court where the business is located. An injunction, McNamara conceded, can sometimes be "the whole ballgame."

According to a Judicial Branch press release, upon a plaintiff’s filing a new case, the adverse party will be notified of the judge’s preliminary finding and if an objection is filed, the case will not be assigned to the BCDD, but will instead be transferred to the regular Superior Court docket.

Also in attendance at the meeting were Judge Larry Smukler, presiding justice in Merrimack County, where the new court will be housed, and William McGraw, clerk of the Merrimack Superior Court.

The business court, said Judge Smukler, would avoid backlogs that currently plague Superior Court dockets because it will be devoted only to business matters and will not have to hear criminal matters as the other courts do.

Judge Smukler, long a proponent of bringing new technologies into the courts, announced that the Judicial Branch’s new case management system, Odyssey, will be in place in Merrimack by March, which will open the door for electronic filing. He also responded to one attorney who asked whether or not decisions from the business court would be available online.

"There is nothing stopping us in terms of technology from putting material on the website," he said. "If Judge McNamara decides that he wants to put a decision on the website, then we can certainly do that."

McNamara agreed, saying that not only would he post any decisions longer than two pages on the website, but he would also like to establish openness in the day-to-day operations of the court. In the time since the meeting, a new page has been created on the Judicial Branch website dedicated to BCDD orders and decisions.

"Since this is a voluntary court...," he said, "...I’d like to have a best practices approach to business law."

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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