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Bar News - April 19, 2013

Rules of Civil Procedure Take Effect Oct. 1

The long-awaited implementation of new rules of civil procedure that would eliminate the distinction between equity and other civil cases, among other streamlining features, is set for Oct. 1, court officials say.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Lynn and Superior Court Chief Justice Tina Nadeau confirmed that a Supreme Court rules order will be issued in a matter of weeks establishing Oct. 1 as the effective date. A NHBA CLE program to orient members to the new rules is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the Grappone Conference Center. More details about this program will be announced as they become available.

A year ago, Justice Lynn, chair of the Supreme Courtís Advisory Committee on Rules, announced that the Supreme Court had adopted the civil rules but had indefinitely postponed making the rules effective, saying the time wasnít right due to other pending projects involving the superior court.

Justices Lynn and Nadeau say it is now feasible to change the procedural rules, as their adoption will occur before the rollout of the e-Court for superior court civil cases, but after the adoption of the PAD rules (proportional automatic discovery). Justice Nadeau said court staff and attorneys will have adjusted to the practice changes required by the PAD rules by this fall. Meanwhile, court officials working behind the scenes will be adapting internal case processing changes for e-Court to accommodate the new civil rules. Nadeau said that will work well, since the civil rules and the "business process reengineering" for e-Court both aim to simplify legal processes.

The Rules of Criminal Procedure, which also were submitted to the Court several years ago and have not been implemented, will probably not be made effective until later in the e-Court implementation process, Nadeau said. The criminal rules will apply to both the superior and circuit courts, and adapting processes and training staff in both levels of the courts is not feasible now.

Looking forward to the new rules, Judge Lynn said that on behalf of the Supreme and Superior Courts, he and Chief Justice Nadeau extend their deep appreciation to attorney David Slawsky, Chair of the Special Committee that developed the Civil Rules, and to all the members of that Committee.

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