New Hampshire Judicial Branch Releases Internal Review of the Denial of Final Domestic Violence Order
Multidisciplinary Task Force to Review Domestic Violence Cases Membership Also Announced
CONCORD, NH—The New Hampshire Judicial Branch has released the report of the Internal Review Committee charged with reviewing the facts and circumstances surrounding the denial of a final Domestic Violence Order of Protection in the 10th Circuit Court – Hampton Family Division on October 20, 2021. A copy of the report is available here. The Committee reviewed applicable statutes, case law, both precedential and non-precedential, and the Circuit Court’s Domestic Violence Protocols and concluded that the final hearing was conducted in accordance with all applicable laws and protocols, as well as the principles of procedural fairness and proper judicial conduct. The Committee further concluded that the denial represented a reasonable application of current New Hampshire law to the facts of the case.
Circuit Court Judge Susan B. Carbon, a nationally recognized expert on domestic violence and a former director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice, chaired the Committee. The other Committee members were: Circuit Court Judge Erin B. McIntyre, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Countway, Superior Court Judge Jacalyn A. Colburn, Circuit Court Administrator Sarah Freeman, and Circuit Court Supervisory Staff Attorney Ryan C. Guptill. The New Hampshire Supreme Court received a copy of the Committee’s report on November 23, 2021.
The Committee made seven recommendations for improving court practices. The recommendations include reviewing and updating protection order related forms, creating easy to use and accessible tools for survivors of intimate partner violence, updating the legal definition of “abuse,” increasing awareness of non-precedential Supreme Court opinions in protection order cases, providing clear expectations about final hearings to plaintiffs and defendants in protection order cases, providing access to legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence, and providing training to victim advocates on completing petitions and the court process for deciding protection order cases.
As an initial step in responding to these recommendations, the New Hampshire Judicial Branch announces the membership of a multidisciplinary task force to conduct a systemic review of domestic violence cases in the court system. As previously announced, New Hampshire Supreme Court Associate Justice Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi will chair the Task Force on Domestic Violence Cases in the New Hampshire Judicial System. Other members of the Task Force are:
• Circuit Court Judge Susan Carbon
• Superior Court Judge Diane Nicolosi
• Circuit Court Judge John Yazinski
• Mary Barton, Circuit Court Clerk, Manchester District and Family Division
• Merrill Beauchamp, Director, Victim &Witness Program, Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office
• Kathy Beebe, Executive Director, Haven NH
• Kristyn Bernier, Investigator, Belknap County Attorney’s Office
• Steven Endres, Assistant County Attorney, Merrimack County Attorney’s Office
• Martha Ann Hornick, Grafton County Attorney
• Mary Krueger, Staff Attorney, New Hampshire Legal Assistance
• Lynda Ruel, Director, Office of Victim/Witness Assistance, New Hampshire Department of Justice
• Lyn Schollett, Executive Director, New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
• Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs, New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
• Attorney Jon Strasburger, o/b/o NH Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
• Attorney David Vicinanzo, DOVE Program volunteer
The Task Force will be supported by Judicial Branch staff as well as the National Center for State Courts, whose staff has expertise in domestic violence policies, processes, and statutory provisions in states throughout the country. The Task Force will meet throughout the early winter with the goal of submitting a final report to the New Hampshire Supreme Court by late February 2022.