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For Immediate Release
Posted: October 06, 2022


Susan Warner, Communications Manager
(802) 299-6945 |

New Hampshire Supreme Court Amends Rules and Increases Counsel Rates for Indigent Criminal Defense and Other Cases

Court-appointed attorneys could see first hourly rate increase in decades

CONCORD, NH—The New Hampshire Supreme Court has taken a major step to combat the ongoing crisis in legal representation for indigent litigants within the state. The Court has adopted amended rules that create increased hourly counsel rates for attorneys assigned to indigent defense, parenting, guardianship, and certain other cases. 

Some of these hourly rate increases will be for the first time in 30 years. The increases in rates are intended to ease the ongoing indigent criminal defense crisis by encouraging additional private New Hampshire attorneys to accept more of these cases.

The counsel rate changes are the result of a proposal made by the New Hampshire Judicial Council to the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules. The proposal parallels recommendations made by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Defense Task Force, which issued a report last year calling for several changes to the criminal justice system, including amending the hourly rates for attorneys representing indigent defendants. 

“One of the most significant barriers to attorneys accepting assigned cases on behalf of indigent clients has been the $60 hourly rates, which have existed for decades, paid to attorneys performing this important public service,” notes Associate Justice Patrick E. Donovan, chair of the Criminal Defense Task Force. “While office overhead and employee costs tripled, these rates remained stagnant, which made it nearly impossible for attorneys managing active practices to afford accepting court-appointed cases on a contract or assigned-counsel basis.

“These new rates have long been needed, and with their implementation, we hope the Judicial Council will be in a better position to recruit more contract and assigned counsel to ease the current indigent defense crisis, while also addressing the shortage of attorneys willing to accept parenting, guardianship and family-related cases on behalf of lower income families in New Hampshire.”

The new rates for the different case types are defined on the Judicial Branch website in Supreme Court Order #2022-002 Amended Rules 47, 48, and 48-A. Among these, the hourly rate for major crimes and Supreme Court appeals would be raised from $100 to $125 per hour and the rate for all other criminal defense and certain civil cases would rise from $60 to $90 per hour. In addition, the caps placed on the maximum fees available for these case types will be raised.  

“Every year, private attorneys accept thousands of court-appointed cases,” said Sarah Blodgett, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Judicial Council. “The representation they provide is crucial to the administration of justice in New Hampshire. The Judicial Branch’s timely increase will significantly advance our ability to retain and recruit private attorneys for this important work.”