New Hampshire Bar Journal
2005 Winter, 12.
A Vision of Justice: The Future Of The New Hampshire Courts
New Hampshire Bar Journal Winter 2005 Volume 45, Number 4 A Vision of Justice: The Future Of The New Hampshire Courts By Attorney Bruce W. Felmly, Chair The following is a condensed version of the report of the The New Hampshire Supreme Court Committee on Justice System Needs and Priorities, published September 1, 2004. Attorney Bruce W. Felmly chaired the group. Visit www.nhcourts.state.nh.gov for the full-text of the report.
The courts must be centered on serving the needs of the people. To succeed and to endure, the judicial system must be understood by and have the support and confidence of the citizens it serves. The touchstone of this report is the belief that a fair, efficient and accountable court system, which respects the dignity of all it serves, will be supported and will meet the needs of the people.
New Hampshire is uniquely positioned to achieve this goal. It has been blessed with a history of outstanding judges and court administration.
It is staffed by well-trained and committed professionals who serve New Hampshire by bringing justice to the public. The court system has met the challenges and needs of generations of citizens, and its leaders are anticipating the demands of our future. It is a difficult and diverse job to provide for the wide array of legal needs coming to our courts.
Former Chief Justice Frank Kenison reminded us years ago of the seriousness of the mission and the nature of the constituency:
[T]he Supreme Court and the Judiciary of this State will continue to maintain and guard its house of justice for the humble as well as the powerful, for the poor as well as the rich, for the minority as well as the majority, and for the unpopular as well as the popular.'
New Hampshire House Journal, February 18, 1975 at 256-257.
While the mission and acceptance of its obligations continue without dilution or fatigue, it is clear that we stand at a critical place. The nature and pace of change we will experience during the next five years and the impact that change will have on the delivery of justice to the people will be unprecedented in our history. New Hampshire joins other states in experiencing a dramatic increase in the diversity of its population and the complexity of the family and personal legal issues they bring to the courts. There are striking changes in family composition, particularly in the growth of families headed by a single parent. The racial and ethnic composition of the state is changing, particularly in our urban areas. The aging of our population will continue and create new emphasis on legal issues about caring for that population. These trends also affect the court's workforce and its ability to attract and retain highly talented court staff and administrators.
While our notions of justice and fairness may not change, the mechanisms, speed of management, and the expectations of those receiving services through the court system are changing. All of us encounter daily changes in technology and information. Our means and manner of communicating have been revolutionized in the electronic "E- World." Business and commercial life are based on a digital reality. It is essential that those institutions handling our most critical communications and interactions - our courts - are up to speed with technology and the modem essential means of transferring information.
Similarly, those served by the social, political, and legal systems all demand high...