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Bar News - January 13, 2012

In Memoriam: Albert ‘Kip’ Weeks, Keene Lawyer, Judge

Albert Weeks
Much of the following information is drawn from an obituary published in the Keene Sentinel.This online version contains additional material not included in the print edition of the Bar News.

The date of death was incorrectly reported in the print edition of the Bar News. The date has been corrected below.

Albert H.“Kip” Weeks, 63, a probate court judge and longtime Keene lawyer, died Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, at his home in Keene after a three-year battle with brain cancer.

Raised in Connecticut, he had vacationed in the Keene area as a child, and later worked for six years as a reporter for The Keene Sentinel in the 1970s, and then as a legislative aide to Sen. John Durkin. Admitted to the Bar in 1982, he returned to the region to practice law and in 2000 he was appointed as Cheshire County Probate Court judge.

From 1995 to 1997, he served on the NHBA Board of Governors, representing Cheshire County, and served on the Gender Equality Committee, the Lawyer Advertising Task Force and the Legal History Committee of the NH Bar Foundation. He also served on the Continuing Legal Education committee from 1983 to 1987 and was president of the Cheshire County Bar Association from 1995 to 1997.

His predecessor on the board of governors, and longtime friend, attorney Tom Hanna, a Keene lawyer who also was a Sentinel reporter in the 1970s, said this of Weeks: “What made Kip a good newspaper reporter is the same thing that made him a good lawyer and judge: He had a special ability to connect with people and he had an incredible curiosity about people.”

“He was very thoughtful and compassionate,” said David King, the deputy Circuit Court administrative judge. King said that Weeks took pains to make sure that all parties involved in what could be painful decisions involving child guardianship understood his decisions.

He also spelled out in lengthy written opinions what a parent could do to get a child back. “He explained what the next step is here,” King said. “It was unusual to see lengthy orders like that.”

His civic endeavors included serving as a trustee and president of the Keene Public Library Board, a board member of the City's Zoning Board of Adjustment, Monadnock United Way, Monadnock Family Services, the Colonial Theatre Group, the Keene Baseball Club (Swamp Bats), and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. He was a long-time parishioner at St. James Episcopal Church and an incorporator at the Cheshire Medical Foundation.

He was also an adjunct professor at Keene State College where he taught paralegal and management courses. His interests included local history, reading, fishing, riding his bicycle, and collecting books on Alaska and New Hampshire.

He is survived by his wife, Chris, and his son and daughter, Sam and Meg.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial contributions be made in Kip's name to the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, PO Box 217, Sullivan, NH 03445 or to Home Health Care – Hospice, 312 Marlboro Street, PO Box 564, Keene, NH 03431.

Katherine Hanna, a Manchester attorney who grew up in Keene and knew Weeks as a friend and colleague, recalled contacting Weeks in the middle of the night when he was a probate court judge.

“He was an excellent lawyer and a devoted Probate Court judge. I will never forget the time that I had an emergency guardianship petition in the middle of the night for a hospital client and knowing no home telephone numbers for Probate Judges other than Kip’s, I called him at 2 a.m. to ask him if he could handle this emergency guardianship hearing (the hospital wanted to give emergency, life-saving treatment to a 22 year old who refused the treatment).

“Kip agreed to go to the Cheshire County Courthouse in the middle of the night for a telephonic hearing, and I put on evidence from the psychiatrist, the patient’s mother, etc. He adjudicated the patient to be incompetent, thereby clearing the way for the hospital to administer the life sustaining treatment.

After the hearing, Kip told me that when he arrived home at 3:30 a.m. after the hearing, his wife Chris asked where the heck he had been. “I had to go to the courthouse for a middle of the night hearing,” he said. To which his wife responded, “But I didn’t hear your truck leave or return.” He said, “I rode my bike to the courthouse because I didn’t want to disrupt the neighborhood.” To which his wife responded, “Were you wearing THAT?” He had his pajamas on, and had ridden his bike in his pajamas to the court house!”

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