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Bar News - January 21, 2015

Bar Governance: Bench-Bar Meeting Set for March


A bench-bar conference planned for March is designed to bring together invited members of the NH Judicial Branch and the NH Bar Association to discuss issues of mutual concern. The last bench-bar meeting was held more than a decade ago.

The NH Bar Association Board of Governors at its Dec. 18 meeting received an update on the conference planning from past NHBA president Jennifer Parent, chair of the NHBA Committee on Cooperation the Courts.

The bench-bar meeting, reminiscent of periodic gatherings held in the past and informally known as Red Jacket meetings (named after the North Conway hotel where these meetings frequently were held), is an initiative of the Bar Associationís Committee on Cooperation with the Courts. Parent is co-chairing the event, along with Katherine Hanna, an attorney and former legal counsel to Governor John Lynch. Hanna also chaired the first Judicial Selection Commission created in the late 1990s by then-Governor Jeanne Shaheen.

Parent said a steering committee, made up of current judges from the state and federal bench and several attorneys from different parts of the state and a variety of practice settings, is planning the agenda for the one-day meeting, set for Friday, March 27, in Concord. Parent told board members that for expense reasons, and to facilitate discussion, the meeting will be limited to 100 people, evenly split between representatives of the courts and the legal profession. The main purpose of the meeting, she said, is to have members of the bench and bar talk face-to-face about ways to improve relations and collaborate more on mutually identified issues.

The agenda is not finalized, but, Parent said, it will likely focus on the following: scheduling issues, use of technology in the courtroom, balancing efficiency and expense vs. due process, the treatment of self-represented litigants, and ways to promote greater professionalism and collegiality in litigation.

Also at the Dec. 18 meeting, the board voted unanimously to nominate David Ruoff, of Howard & Ruoff, to run for President-elect of the association in the Board of Governors election in the spring. Petitions are now circulating for positions open for election this year. Positions open this year include: secretary and treasurer, four governor-at-large positions, including the public sector and out-of-state seats; and governors representing Cheshire, Coos, Grafton, Merrimack, and Rockingham counties.) Download the nomination petition.

The Board also reviewed a new formal opinion of the Ethics Committee addressing the question of whether it is ever appropriate to disclose confidential client information to protect a client from elder abuse or threats of substantial bodily harm.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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