Bar News - March 16, 2012
Board of Governors: Keep Superior Court in Nashua
The following article reports on Board meetings held on February 16 and March 6, 2012.
The February 16, 2012, meeting of the Board of Governors included discussions of pending legislation, the Bar Associationís response to proposals to change the attorney discipline process and an update on the implementation of the Circuit Court Call Center.
The Board also met in an abbreviated session on March 6, 2012, on the eve of the 2012 Midyear Meeting. The March meeting was highlighted by presentations of service projects by two teams comprised of the Leadership Academy, Class of 2012. (More on the service projects will be reported in upcoming issues of Bar News.)
The remainder of this article is devoted to items from the February Board meeting.
In addition to voting on Bar positions on the most recent set of bills reviewed by the NHBA Legislation Committee (see related article on page one), the Board discussed in-depth HB1655 which would allow Hillsborough County Superior Court Southern District to re-consolidate with the Northern District in Manchester. Howard Zibel, NH Supreme Court General Counsel and Kent Barker, a member of the Nashua Bar Association, briefed the board on the various arguments on this issue. A fiscal note for HB1655 indicated that approximately $313,000 in savings would eventually result from the consolidation through clerical and managerial staff cuts. Barker discussed a number of consequences that would result from removing access to superior court proceedings in NHís second-largest city.
After the discussion, the Board voted to support Hillsborough South remaining in Nashua, and a letter advancing this position was sent to members of the House Judiciary Committee in advance of their vote on the bill the following week. At that time, the Judiciary Committee voted HB1655 "inexpedient to legislate." In a subsequent interview with the Nashua Telegraph, Chief Justice Dalianis lamented the legislatorsí vote and added that she did not intend to resurrect the idea unless circumstances change.
The Board was briefed on the Bar officersí response to the Courtís request for comment from the Bar Association on an ABA groupís recommendations for changes to the attorney discipline system in New Hampshire. (See related article.)
Representatives from the Circuit Court administration, including administrator Patrick Casey and Call Center Manager Jane Bradstreet, briefed the Board on the progress of the Call Center, which eventually will answer all calls for all Circuit Court locations. Trained staff will answer general information questions and can provide docket or scheduling information, or transfer calls to courthouse personnel. (See Bar News article for more on the Call Center.) The Call Center is gradually taking over answering functions, one Circuit at a time, and at present, all calls to courthouses in Coos and Merrimack counties and Manchester were being answered by the Call Center. Grafton County and Nashua were the next sites to be added with complete implementation expected by July 1.
Ryan and Bradstreet reported that in the first six weeks, Call Center staff had spent 773 hours with callers, thus sparing courthouse personnel an equivalent amount of time to devote to other tasks. They also reiterated that if any attorney calls the Call Center for the purpose of talking directly with a clerk at the courthouse, they will be transferred immediately.
The Board appointed Kelly E. Dowd, of Bragdon Dowd & Kossyda of Keene to represent Cheshire County on the Board of Governors, filling the vacancy created by the move of Sheila Burnham out of the county. He will fill the seat until the next BOG election.
The Board next meets on April 19, 2012 at the Bar Center.