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We need to keep the pressure on the NH Family Courts by educating the public about the numerous injustices occurring. Please feel free to send us your information for posting. I have not had any recent dealings with the court system so I do not have current information to post. The best way to deal with these unethical judges, guardian ad litems and lawyers is to post as much on them as you can so that people do not want to do business with them. I have personally known judges that have their own practices as most judges are attorneys first. Hit these people where it counts. Their wallets. Starve them out and cut off their funds. When people do not want to use their services, they will have to change their evil ways or be unemployed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NH Court Overhaul Plan Faces Hurdle (Article from Sunday Feb 13, 2011 Union Leader)

New Hampshire Union Leader Staff
House Speaker William O'Brien doubts the Legislature this session will approve $4.7 million for a proposed court system overhaul and predicts a review of the entire plan might not happen until summer.

"To throw this in the mix (of a tough budget year), it's difficult to see how it's going to come out in any positive way," O'Brien said in an interview last week. He also said the judicial branch may well need "to start looking for some immediate staff reductions" rather than thin its ranks solely through retirements and attrition. 
Chief Justice Linda Dalianis urged legislators to move forward on both fronts sooner than the summer, saying the twin requests would save state government millions and make its courts more efficient.

"It seems to me there's sufficient urgency to the problem; it ought to be given priority consideration rather than "we'll get to it when we're done with everything else,'" Dalianis said in an interview Friday.

Because of budget reductions, the state's courts have closed one day a month and placed employees on unpaid furlough.

A report of the Judicial Branch Innovation Commission released last month recommends overhauling the state court system, including combining the district, probate and family division courts into a new circuit court. Some savings would come from consolidation of management, the report said.

By 2020, the proposed changes, if carried out, would result in eliminating an estimated 116.7 clerical positions, including 100 such positions now vacant in the judiciary system, according to Edwin Kelly, administrative judge for the district court and family division.

All the recommendations collectively could produce nearly $38 million in savings to the judicial branch through fiscal year 2020, according to the report. That wouldn't include nearly $8 million in anticipated new revenue and an additional $16.7 million that local, county and state agencies might save by 2020.

Dale Trombley, fiscal manager for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said the $4.7 million request in the capital budget "will benefit others outside state government."

A case in point: buying equipment to conduct video arraignments could save local and county law enforcement agencies $1.87 million a year, she said.

Trombley used the number of video arraignments Strafford County conducted in 2009 -- 1,978 -- to project a statewide total of 9,444.

That $1.87 million in projected savings was calculated by multiplying 9,444 by $200, the cost incurred each time police or sheriff personnel drive a prisoner from jail to court and back.

Establishing a phone center to receive all calls from the public would free current court workers from being repeatedly interrupted. The call center would eliminate 6.6 positions, saving $321,840 a year starting in the state's next fiscal year, which starts July 1, Trombley said.

The state Department of Safety could save about $100,000 a year if the process of handling speeding tickets was revamped. That savings would come from cutting the number of trips troopers would have to make to court.

"The fact of the matter is everyone in this state is facing a huge financial challenge, and we've tried the best to do our part to address the difficulties," Kelly said. "If this bill isn't approved, we're not going to be able to do it."

Kelly learned on Friday that the governor's capital budget, to be released Tuesday, will include "considerably less" money than the courts requested. Colin Manning, the governor's spokesman, didn't return an e-mail message left Friday.

Kelly said he hopes he gets at least $700,000 to start the call center and video conference system. The other $3.95 million would be for an electronic filing system.

O'Brien said difficult decisions on state spending priorities make it tough to approve the court's request "in pursuit of savings that may or may not occur way off in the future."

He praised the judiciary at looking for ways to become more efficient, but he said legislators need to look at all the potential repercussions in the proposed overhaul.

O'Brien noted one proposal in the consolidation plan -- not having marital masters hear child custody cases -- might affect how much federal funding the state receives. At least some cases would be shifted from marital masters to lower-paid referees, according to the report.

Kelly said he wouldn't expect a dramatic loss of federal money if marital masters no longer handled child custody cases. He said the judiciary is willing to work with legislators.

"Honestly, we've tried to frame HB 609 in such a way that if there are provisions in HB 609 that are causing a concern, that they'd be removed," Kelly said. "For example, if marital masters is creating a problem and needs to be studied, remove that piece and study that over the summer and come back with a new bill."

The report also called for greater use of part-time workers at the superior court and circuit court levels.

David King, administrative judge for probate court, said the circuit court proposal shouldn't run afoul of the state constitution.

Currently, registrars of probate must be elected by state constitution, King said. "Under the proposed system, they remain elected but have diminished job descriptions. Their responsibilities would be pared down from now, and their salaries as well," he said.

Dalianis said it wouldn't be prudent to cut staff immediately. "We will be managing a huge change, and it's difficult to manage change under the best of circumstances, but if we don't have our experienced and valued work force to help manage that change, it will be harder to accomplish."

Dalianis said she would have preferred to consolidate court buildings.

"If it were up to me, I would look forward to the most efficient model, and that probably would include consolidating courts and closing some," she said.

But she said the commission made a political calculation because an attempt a few years back to close four district courts ran into roadblocks.

"We didn't want to start off with something that obviously would meet with huge opposition," Dalianis said.
O'Brien illustrated the judge's point. "Consolidation is a great thing, but one trend I've been concerned about over time is the closing of local courts because I think justice should be reasonably available" to the public.

The commission recommends the governor form an independent commission -- "similar to those established for military base closings" -- to identify court buildings that could be closed to save money.

New Hampshire Bar Association President Marilyn McNamara, who provided advice to the commission, called the commission's recommendations "very innovative and forward-thinking, and I think they hold a lot of promise for the future."

How about a small-claims process that takes judgments seriously.
- Chris K, Strafford
A wrongfully terminated employee faces a 2 year wait for a jury trial. How tragic for a family needing a ruling on custody or divorce.. It will take big courage and big brains in the legislature to fund the judiciary adequately and to acknowledge that an investment for a reorganization plan today preserves constitutional rights, and millions of taxpayer dollars tomorrow. Those yelling, "fire staff" need "the vision thing". The judiciary is a third, equal branch of government, notwithstanding the lack of respect it receives as the result of its independent rulings, often at odds with whatever party is in power. That is the glory of the constitution: the judiciary must be rock-steady and impartial in a sea of political bickering. (Or would you rather the efficient Russian system whose decisions are written before the trials?) Those legislators who hammer the court system are the first ones to call their lawyers when they have been wronged. Like it or not, justice requires judges, jurors, committed staff, computers, heated buildings and a plan to meet the future.. Chief Justice Dalianis has shown courage and vision. May the legislators measure up to the constitution they claim to honor.
- Attorney Nancy Richards-Stower, Merrimack, N.H. 03054
A quick check reveals that 59 bills and proposed constitutional amendments are assigned to the House Judiciary committee for their consideration. Just scheduling hearings and subcommittee meetings, to say nothing of executive sessions, on this number of bills prior to cross-over is daunting. I believe a court overhaul bill deserves careful consideration, and should be held over the summer.
- Marge Hallyburton, Lyndeborough
This situation is not new. Many of us warned all the Democrats in the State House, year after year after year. They paid no attention to the volumes of people pouring into the Bill Hearings.

Kelly, the ridiculous failure of a Family Court Administrator that he is, generates almost ALL of the red ink in the entire Judicial Branch.Now that the Republicans are back in the majority, the people who put us in this situation are the ones pointing fingers!

The Family Division has absolutely no respect for the public, the law, the Constitution, children, or anything else. Everyone working for the Courts who take unpaid days off are getting ripped off by no one else but Judge Ed Kelly.
- David Johnson, Londonderry
Points of clarification,

Paul from SC, your $48,000 average does not count the costs of someone answering the phones. If covers the court clerk, who has to stop their true labor to handle phone calls like, "What time are you open?" "Can I get an extention on my timely payment?", and so on. Stay in SC.

Stuart in Milford, did you come up with the "sheeples" phrase? How original. Maybe you should concern yourself with the so called "willy-nilly" arrests because I and the majority of NH residents don't break the law that infringe upon my rights. Oh, I know, we don't want you to have to be considerate to us sheeples by refraining from petty Disorder Conduct, DWI (no danger there to my family members), driving duspended, or driving without a license. Oh, talk about willy-nilly stuff. Video arraignments are fair, but they won't be fair long because we're cutting the funding to our courts creating a back log of cases never seen before.

One exploration of cuts I never hear is the Department of Safety. State Police, is an euphimism for Highway Enforcement, which we had at one point and got consolidated to NHSP with ineffective job cuts. Lets slash away at the NHSP and institute more Sheriff enforcement. Especially for those towns up north that choose not to have a police force and spend my tax dollars on the services of state police. Make those county residents pay for effective enforcement and cut a third of the NHSP staff.
- Marc, Rochester
Passing HB 591, Shared Parenting, would have a dramatic impact on reducing the Courts Budget. 

But then again, it would reduce the income from billable hours for all the Attorneys, GALs, Therapists, mediators, Supervised Visitation Centers.

What would these professionals do when they are longer able to perpetuate divorces and parent child reunification efforts when one parent simply does not agree to the conditions of shared parenting?

No wonder NH does not have Shared Parenting, it is big business hidden behind the Best Interest of the Child.
- Court Coustomer, Everywhere, NH
So, because we as a country refuse to stop paying for the 30 million illegals in the US and stop the trilions in foreign aid, our fed govt is going broke and inturn the states. Now its to the point where American citizens can't even afford to have a functional justice system.
- Tom Walters, Dover
Marital Masters are a joke. They are political hacks who's parents or their former law firms gave heavily to Democrats. GET RID OF THEM. Also the ALL the clerks and everyone working in the court houses could be replaced by Taco Bell employees. (Not wanting to offend Taco Bell employees). They are all rabid feminists and bigots. GET RID OF THEM. Remember the FAMILY COURT TAKES UP 80% OF ALL LITIGATION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE!!
- Harold, Manchester NH
Well said, Melvin. Penny wise and pound foolish is what we are with the court system.
- Steve B, Derry
O'Brien illustrated the judge's point. "Consolidation is a great thing, but one trend I've been concerned about over time is the closing of local courts because I think justice should be reasonably available" to the public.

Gear job of doublespeak O'Brien. You don't want to fund the judicial branch, which has already been forced to engage in cost cutting measures which clearly hurt access to justice, but you are concerned about consolidating courts because it could hurt access to justice.

You really don't have any idea what you are saying or doing, do you?
- Joe, Manchester
Trombley used the number of video arraignments Strafford County conducted in 2009 -- 1,978 -- to project a statewide total of 9,444.
That $1.87 million in projected savings was calculated by multiplying 9,444 by $200, the cost incurred each time police or sheriff personnel drive a prisoner from jail to court and back.

(Did they take into consideration that sometimes more than one inmate will be transported in the same vehicle? That would cut back on the savings figures. Not substantially but they should aim for the most accurate figures)
- Tony, NH, MA
This is an issue that should be addressed earlier, rather than later. It turns our court system into a Monty Hall style "Let's Make a Deal". Case in point, someone who gets a summons for a minor infraction asks for the jury trial. The courts are so backed up that, rather than getting a court date, the heinous criminal gets a letter inviting them to come and talk to the prosecutor in a "mediation" meeting. The treacherous malefactor gets two bites at the apple, working out the slap on the wrist settlement that he/she are looking for or fall back onto the jury trial that will be scheduled eventually. Justice delayed is justice denied. Address the issue now before it becomes commonplace...(it's well on it's way to becoming so already).
- norm, northwood
good idea ..wait until the sheeple and their reps have had time to look this overhaul over first....let the Just-Us system wait...
Time for them to pare down salaries and decide who is important...just like the real world "out there."..wecome aboard..

Hey..maybe the police could stop arresting peple willy-nilly as they do, become a neutral presence and stop rushing to judgement at the scene.

Also not sure video arraignments are fair to prisoners cases being "heard," as it eliminates the face-to-face with the judge.
- stuart, milford
It would be nice to see this project put off until the State has the money, but how about restoring the funds that were stripped from this important third of the State government?

The Legislature can start by funding the positions of the judges needed to establish justice in NH. At both the District and Superior Court levels.

The present lack of funding is criminal. And, no, I am not a court employee, nor am I a lawyer. I do not have any family members working in the court system and I'm not looking for an appointment as a judge, although that would be a great experience!
- Melvin, Keene
Ed. Kelly wants to eliminate 6.6 jobs in the court system, at an average salary of $48,000.
That's for answering the telephone. Maybe that's why the court is in financial trouble. To effect that savings of $331, 000 would ONLY COST the court $700, 000. That's Ed. Kelly for you.
I have a better idea. Let's eliminate Ed. Kelly!
- Paul M. Clements, Gaffney, SC

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