Courts

Sara Plourde

A Christian legal group has asked a federal judge to block a New Hampshire law that bars demonstrators from coming within 25 feet of facilities that offer or perform abortions.

New Hampshire’s so-called buffer zone rule is set to take effect Thursday. But in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a similar law in Massachusetts, Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to delay implementation of the new restrictions.

Courtroom One Gavel
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire Judicial Branch will begin pilot programs to push small claims courts toward going paperless.  Officials say small claims courts in Concord and Plymouth will switch to electronic filing and processing July 30.  The goal is to have all 32 small claims courts statewide go paperless by the end of the year.  Judicial officials say more than 13,000 new small claims actions were filed in 2013 and nearly 9,000 were reopened.  Small claims are filed in cases involving damages or debts of $7,500 or less. That sum will increase to $10,000 next year.

Why Law Schools Are Facing An Enrollment Problem

Jul 3, 2014
MiraCosta Community College / Flickr Creative Commons

After years of a so-called “lawyer bubble”, with firms expanding rapidly – these days, many new graduates struggle to get a job in the legal profession.  In response, law school enrollment numbers are plummeting, leading some to scale back their operations and many to re-think the best way to deliver that juris doctorate.

GUESTS:

Defense Rests In Mazzaglia Case

Jun 24, 2014
Jim Cole / AP Photo POOL

  The defense has rested in the trial of Seth Mazzaglia, the 31 year old Dover man charged with raping and killing UNH student Lizzi Marriott. 

Mazzaglia’s defense team rested after only two days, following 18 days of arguments from state prosecutors-- including extensive testimony by Mazzaglia’s 20-year-old ex-girlfriend, Kat McDonough.  The defendant did not testify on his own behalf.

During the prosecution, the state argued Mazzaglia strangled Marriott. The defense countered that McDonough accidentally asphyxiated Marriott during sex.

Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  About 80% of the people behind bars in New Hampshire have substance abuse issues. It’s a growing problem and one way the justice system is trying to address the problem is with drug courts—where nonviolent offenders have their sentences suspended if they take part in treatment. Five counties now operate drug courts and efforts are underway to start two more in Manchester and Nashua. The program could help reduce recidivism rates.


It’s important to note, firstly, that the cost of incarcerating someone in state prison is about $32k and in county jails about $35k. Experts say that ideally, drug courts operate on a budget that has a per capita cost of about $8-12k. Any less than that and participants may not be getting enough supervision or critical aid in education, transportation, medication etc. Any more than that and it’s probably time to bring more participants into the program. The challenge many drug courts face is funding.

The Executive Council has confirmed four judges for the circuit court nominated by Governor Maggie Hassan.

New Hampshire's Executive Council has given the attorney general's office nearly $1 million to offset the costs of waging and defending major cases.

The $900,000 award — approved Wednesday — is nearly triple the $350,000 for litigation costs allocated to the office for fiscal year 2014.

New Hampshire’s judicial system is going digital with a new system called eCourt. The system is launching pilot programs in parts of New Hampshire in 2014 - but don’t expect a big rollout like what the White House did for HealthCare.gov.

IntelFreePress via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire's Supreme Court will decide whether reading a text message while driving is a crime, even though it's not barred by law.

Thirty-year-old Chad Belleville, of Barnstead, is serving a 3 ½-to-7-year sentence for second-degree assault and vehicular assault related to a December 2010 car accident in Pittsfield that seriously injured a teenager.

Belleville's lawyer argues that reading a text message on his phone amounted to a momentary distraction, not reckless or negligent conduct.

Robin Hooders Case To Continue

Jun 12, 2013

The city of Keene’s lawsuit against a group known as the Robin Hooders will go forward. The group has gained attention for filling empty parking meters in the city, as well as for allegations of harassing parking attendants. This week, they had their first day in court.

Todd Bookman / NHPR

A new report titled 'The Justice Gap' finds that low income New Hampshire residents lack access to even basic legal services.

The report estimates that more than 60% of civil cases in the state involve people representing themselves. And they do so because they don’t have access to lawyers and paralegals.

A proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November would give the legislature final say over judicial rules and procedures.  That has some in the legal community incensed over what they consider to be a power grab by the legislature. But others in that same legal community think it simply restores authority appropriately to the people’s representatives.

Orangesparrow / Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s say your teenager gets caught shoplifting. Or maybe your Uncle Morty dies and you’ve got to settle his estate.

Recovering alcoholics can usually pinpoint their rock-bottom. For Michael Hagar, it was the night of July 28, 2009. That evening, he met up with some friends to drink behind the Hannaford’s supermarket in Keene. 

“And that is where the whole incident took off from,” said Hagar.

Behind the grocery story, Hagar believes he drank about 18 beers. Then someone jumped him, hitting him in the face with a log. His pants and wallet were stolen. Gushing blood and enraged, he staggered into the store's parking lot.

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