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Bar News - April 15, 2011

Austere State Budget Alters Legal Landscape

The state budget now faces review by the Senate whose leaders indicate they intend to make some changes but keep it close to the $10.6 billion total passed by the NH House.

Areas affected by the proposed budget that impact the legal community include:

  • 60 layoffs (approximately) affect staffing at every level of court.
  • 118 Clerks, Deputy Clerks, Registers cut to 51 Clerk/Deputy Clerk positions in Circuit Court.
  • NO court locations will close.
  • Visit , check the NHBA e-Bulletin or NH Barís Facebook page for updates.
Circuit Court speeded up. HB 609, which consolidates the probate and district courts and the family division into a single statewide administrative unit and drastically shrinks the number of manager/clerks in the system, has had an easy passage in the legislature so far. The Judicial Branch has agreed to speed up implementation to take effect July 1, 2011. It also hopes to win approval for capital expenditures for electronic filing, video installations and a centralized call center. (See page 38.)

Courts prepare for layoffs. Chief Justice Dalianis estimates that under the House version of the budget, approximately 60 court employees may be laid off in the coming fiscal year, with many more unfilled positions eliminated.

Guardians ad litem fund eliminated. Portending a significant change in divorce practice, the fund paying for guardians ad litem in divorce cases has been eliminated. (See separate story.)

Legal Assistance appropriation deleted. Omission of state appropriations to NH Legal Assistance will force a major retrenching by the statewide organization, which also faces a funding shortfall from reductions in IOLTA revenue.

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