Justice Gary E. Hicks receives the Frank Rowe Kenison Award
CONCORD—Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Gary E. Hicks, whose long career in the law has exemplified his commitment to high standards of professionalism and civility, has received the Frank Rowe Kenison Award in recognition of his substantial contributions to the administration of justice, benefitting the public in his home state, and nationwide.
The annual award is named for Chief Justice Frank Kenison (1907-1980) who served for 25 years as chief justice and is revered for both his scholarly contributions to the law and his warm and thoughtful leadership of the state court system. Following his graduation from Boston University School of Law, Justice Hicks, a native of Colebrook, was a law clerk for Chief Justice Kenison, in the same Supreme Court building in Concord where years later, he would serve as an associate justice.
“He was my first mentor,” Justice Hicks said recently of Chief Justice Kenison, who counseled him on the law, but also on how to conduct himself as a member of the legal profession. Throughout his own career, Justice Hicks said, he has been mindful of the example set by Chief Justice Kenison whom he said provided a young lawyer with support and guidance in a “selfless and generous way.”
“It is a matter of transmitting values to the next group of people who come along,” Justice Hicks said, “It is one of the most important things we do,” he added.
The Kenison Award was established by the New Hampshire Bar Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization that promotes efforts by New Hampshire Bar to ensure equal access to justice.
Chief Justice Gordon J. MacDonald, in remarks during the presentation of the award to Justice Hicks, said his colleague’s devotion to mentorship will be “a part of his legacy for decades to come.”
Over many years, the Chief Justice noted, Justice Hicks’ contributions have ranged from coaching a youth basketball team, to law school teaching, working with interns and law clerks and taking a leadership role in the American Inns of Courts, which promotes excellence in legal scholarship, ethics and civility. Most recently, Justice Hicks has worked with newly selected U.S. Magistrate Judge Talesha Saint-Marc on a project to recruit private and public school students from diverse and multicultural backgrounds to consider a career in the legal profession in New Hampshire.
Justice Hicks is on the advisory board of the St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies Program in Concord, which is attended every summer by public school students from around the state---including, in 1970, Justice Hicks, who was then a student at Colebrook Academy in New Hampshire’s north country. That summer at St. Paul’s, Justice Hicks met Patricia Garrell from Central High School in Manchester. They were married in 1975 and have two children and four grandchildren.
Justice Hicks has been honored for his leadership roles by a wide range of professional organizations, including the American Bar Foundation and the New Hampshire Association for Justice, which presented him with the 2021 Civil Justice Award. He has received both the President’s Award, for distinguished service, and the Philip S. Hollman Gender Equality Award from the New Hampshire Bar. Justice Hicks is a past chairman of the New Hampshire Judicial Council, a 24 member board which oversees funding for court appointed lawyers and guardians and provides information about the courts to state government.
Gov. John Lynch nominated Justice Hicks to the Supreme Court after serving for four years as a Superior Court judge. Before coming to the trial court bench, Justice Hicks spent 23 years as commercial litigator at the Manchester law firm of Wiggin & Nourie. He was sworn in as the 104th justice in January 2006.
“You could not ask for a better colleague than Gary Hicks,” Chief Justice MacDonald said at the award presentation. “What you see is what you get with him – behind closed doors, he is just as friendly, affable, generous and gracious as he is in public. He approaches the task at hand with gusto and enthusiasm.”
The New Hampshire Constitution requires that Justice Hicks step down from the Supreme Court in November, on his 70th birthday. He will have served as a justice for 18 years. He says his plans for the future “are still formulating” but, as the Chief Justice observed, he expects Justice Hicks has more to do.
“I guarantee you that energy will propel him to other accomplishments in service to our state,” the Chief Justice said.