NH Court Access Changes Tomorrow
May 25th, 2020
Contributor: Kevin P. O'Keefe
Happy Memorial Day and thank you to all our Veterans. Effective May 26, 2020, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued new orders following Governor Sununu's continuation of the declared state of emergency under RSA 4.45. This order will continue until June 15, 2020 or the end of the state of emergency. At Reis & O'Keefe, we have been going to court and abiding by this order, but the majority of our hearings and meetings have occurred telephonically or via video conferencing. Generally, the order suspends in-person court appearances with exceptions for:
1)Proceedings necessary to protect constitutional rights of criminal defendants;
2)Proceedings necessary to protect the public on an interim or emergency basis from a substantial threat of serious harm posed by the conduct of an attorney or judge;
3)Proceedings related to petitions for temporary emergency relief;
4)Proceedings directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency;
5)Other exceptions as approved by the Supreme Court or a single justice.
In person jury trials do not appear to be returning any time soon and cross-examination through face cloths is a small price to pay for safety compared to the burdens borne by those in other professions like nurses. For example, you can go to court to get a restraining order try to argue against a child being placed out of their home.
Who has the right to go to court?
The Supreme Court's order states, "To achieve social distancing and to limit in-person contact, attendance at any in-court emergency proceedings held by the Supreme Court during the effective period of this order shall be limited to attorneys, parties, security officers, and other necessary persons, as determined by the Supreme Court or a single justice. However, to comply with the ongoing recommendations to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, the Supreme Court may conduct the above referenced cases telephonically or by video conferencing, to the extent possible."
Arraignment days used to pack the District (now Circuit) Courts with around 100 people most of whom were charged with traffic or violation offenses ranging from speeding to unlawful possession of alcohol to DWI. These days are over for at least 2020.
Court still moves on and our firm has been able to successfully resolve several cases. Others have been frustrated their cases remain untried or unable to resolve without a forced face-to-face meeting created by in-person court hearings. We are available for free consultation for any matter via phone at 603-218-1910 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.