Public Information for the Special Committee on the Family Division of the Circuit Court
Concord, NH: The Special Committee on the Family Division of the Circuit Court held its organizational meeting on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. House Speaker Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry) created this special committee and appointed Representatives Mark Pearson (R-Hampstead) as Chairman and Marjorie Smith (D-Durham) as Vice Chair:
“The legislature wanted to take a closer look at the Family Court system,” noted Representative Pearson. “There have been several different kinds of allegations made over the years and we wanted to examine each of them carefully to see if they had merit.”
Public notice of the following meetings will be listed in the House Calendar found online at www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/calendars_journals. The special committee will allow testimony from various stakeholder groups and members of the public on the following days:
Tuesday, May 2nd, Tuesday, May 9th, Tuesday, May 16th and Tuesday, May 23rd.
Depending on the progress of their work, the committee may also meet on June 6th, June 13th, and June 20th. Room location will be published in the House Calendars prior to the scheduled meetings and will be displayed in the Legislative Office Building meeting schedule displays.
Meetings are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Requests to testify that have not yet been called upon by noon on a particular day will be given priority at the next scheduled meeting.
The Special Committee on the Family Division of the Circuit Court offers the following guidelines relative to public testimony:
- Testimony must be specific in terms of the allegation presented. The Committee cannot legally retry someone’s case. Broad, generalized allegations without substantial and specific evidence will not be considered.
- It is possible that transcripts/recordings of certain cases offered in testimony will be examined for clarification of submitted testimony.
- Testimony is limited to 5 minutes. This allows for a streamlined process where everyone can be heard and allows the speaker time to articulate their position.
The following Notice and Disclaimer was published in the April 20th edition of the House Calendar to provide guidance to those serving on the committee or participating in the committee process:
The Special Committee on the Family Division of the Circuit Court was formed to investigate allegations of irregularities, including failure to follow or enforce statutes, unwarranted waiver of or failure to follow court rules, delay in rendering decisions, denial of due process, and other procedural issues.
The committee will conduct hearings relative to the process of the family division of the Circuit Court and may make recommendations for future legislation.
The purpose of the committee is to discover areas where changes in procedures or changes in law regarding the Family Division of the Circuit Court might be made. The purpose of this special committee is not to re-try the cases of citizens who disagree with the outcome of litigation.
Members of the public will be given the opportunity to testify and present information to the committee. Because of the number of people who may wish to testify, there may be a time limit imposed on each person testifying, which is permissible under House Rule 100.
Appropriate subject matter for testifying will be limited to specific instances of where there seemed to be irregularities in process, procedure, or adherence to rules and statutes.
Those testifying about subject matter related to a court case, or who submit documentation related to a court case should know that both will be made part of the public record.
Therefore, subject matter that is either confidential or may be under seal should not be discussed or submitted to the committee, as disclosure of such matters would be a violation of statute or a court order.
The committee reserves the right to not accept written or oral testimony or materials which would, in its judgment, violate the foregoing.