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Bar News - May 17, 2013


Gov. Hassan Convenes New Screening Panel

Gov. Hassan’s executive order last month establishing a new Judicial Selection Commission raises hopes that additional judicial appointments will soon be in the works.

The new panel offers continuity, with attorney Emily Rice, who co-chaired Gov. Lynch’s screening panel, returning as co-chair along with attorney James Rosenberg, a member of the previous commission. (Lynch’s other co-chair had been Philip Waystack, who put in decades on judicial screening, having previously co-chaired Gov. Shaheen’s screening panel.) At Bar News presstime, the commission had not yet scheduled its first meeting and the governor had not formally sought applicants for vacancies, so it will still be several months before the panel is up and running and at the point where it is submitting candidates for consideration by the governor.

Rice said she plans to create an electronic application process, thus sparing applicants the onerous task imposed of photocopying more than a dozen separate copies of applications and supporting materials. (The judicial screening panels have never had dedicated clerical help, instead relying on the administrative support staffs of the law firms of the co-chairs.)

In announcing the panel’s creation on April 23, Gov. Hassan stated that highly qualified judges are essential for a fair, just and effective judicial system. She said the commission will broadly seek judicial candidates, evaluate all potential applicants and recommend qualified applicants based on experience, good character and judicial temperament.

"Ensuring an effective and fair judicial system in New Hampshire requires rising above partisanship and identifying individuals with the utmost character, experience and integrity to serve as judges," Governor Hassan said. "Our commission will bring together individuals with a deep understanding of New Hampshire’s system of justice in order to recommend highly qualified candidates to fill judicial vacancies."

All judicial nominations are subject to confirmation by the Executive Council, and the Governor’s Judicial Selection Committee includes members with a wide range of experience in New Hampshire’s system of justice, representing each of the state’s five Executive Council districts.

Rice and Waystack recently were recognized as Honorary Fellows of the NH Bar Foundation for their service on the Judicial Selection Commission.

Rice, co-chair of the new commission, practices with the Bernstein Shur firm; Rosenberg is an attorney at the Shaheen & Gordon law firm. The other commission members are:
Attorney Elliott Berry, of NH Legal Assistance (also a member of Lynch’s commission);

Kathleen Goode, who served as director of appointments for both Governors Jeanne Shaheen and John Lynch;

Attorney Martha Hornick, of NH Public Defenders Office in Littleton;

Attorney Michael Lewis, a former homicide prosecutor with the NH Department of Justice and now an associate at the Rath, Young and Pignatelli law firm;

Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau;

Manchester Chief of Police David Mara, who also is a member of the NH Bar;

Arthur Nichols, President and CEO of Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene;

Attorney Wilfred Sanders, Jr., of the Pierce Atwood law firm;

Danette Wineberg, adjunct professor at the UNH School of Law and former Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for The Timberland Company.
Members will serve terms of three years, with the option of additional terms at the invitation of the Governor.

In evaluating applicants for judicial office, the Commission will consider such factors as integrity, legal knowledge and ability, judicial temperament, impartiality, commitment to justice, experience, diligence, administrative and communication skills, and public service. Applicants for judicial office shall be considered without regard to race, disability, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, familial status or political affiliation.

The Commission will initially focus on recruiting candidates to fill three upcoming vacancies on New Hampshire’s Circuit Court due to the pending retirements of the Honorable Clifford Kinghorn, the Honorable Richard Hampe, and the Honorable Christina O’Neill.

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