Several committees exist to assist the Supreme Court in effectively addressing its administrative responsibilities. These include the committees of the Attorney Discipline System, the Committee on Judicial Conduct, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, the Board of Bar Examiners, the Committee on Character and Fitness, the Advisory Committee on Rules, and the Court Accreditation Commission.
Attorney Discipline System
The Attorney Discipline System exists to consider and provide a full and fair evaluation of grievances against attorneys. When lawyers enter the practice of law in New Hampshire, they obligate themselves to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the Supreme Court. Those who violate the Rules of Professional Conduct are subject to discipline. The Attorney Discipline System is composed of the Attorney Discipline Office, the Complaint Screening Committee, the Hearings Committee, and the Professional Conduct Committee.
Committee on Judicial Conduct
The Committee on Judicial Conduct was created by the Supreme Court to consider and investigate alleged misconduct on the part of any judge, as that term is defined in Supreme Court Rule 40(2). The committee is independent from the court system and has its own office, a separate budget, and its own executive director. The committee may issue a reprimand, dispose of a grievance against a judge by informal agreement or adjustment, or recommend that the Supreme Court impose formal discipline.
Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics
The Supreme Court established the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics to assist judges in complying with rules of court and statutes relating to the ethical and professional conduct of judges, including the Code of Judicial Conduct. The committee renders advisory opinions on the propriety of proposed conduct of individuals who are subject to the Code of Judicial Conduct. The committee consists of five members with expertise in the area of judicial ethics.
Board of Bar Examiners
The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over attorney admissions to the New Hampshire bar. Supreme Court Rule 42, I, establishes the Board of Bar Examiners to oversee the Office of Bar Admissions and all aspects of the admission process, including administration and grading of the bar examination, admission by motion and by transferred UBE score, and oversight of the Daniel Webster Scholar Honors Program at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law.
Committee on Character and Fitness
As a part of the bar admission process, applicants to the New Hampshire bar must demonstrate their good moral character and fitness to practice law. Supreme Court Rule 42, II, establishes the nine-member Committee on Character and Fitness, which investigates the character and fitness of applicants to the bar, conducts hearings, and makes recommendations to the Supreme Court regarding applicants’ moral character and fitness to practice law.
Advisory Committee on Rules
To provide for input from the public, as well as the bench and bar, the Supreme Court has established a seventeen-person Advisory Committee on Rules and has adopted procedures for amending or adding to rules in all the New Hampshire courts.
The Advisory Committee is responsible for periodically reviewing all court rules; for receiving suggestions from the public, the bench and the bar, holding hearings and ensuring an opportunity to comment on matters before the committee; and for submitting proposed rules and amendments to the court at least annually. The procedures also provide both for wide distribution of the committee's proposals, with invitations for comment, and for hearings before the Supreme Court if the court deems them desirable.
New Hampshire Court Accreditation Commission
The New Hampshire Court Accreditation Commission was established by the legislature in 1971 and reconstituted in 1989, 2010, and 2019. The commission consists of twelve members, five of whom are appointed by the Supreme Court. The commission’s duties include reviewing the quality and adequacy of court facilities against prescribed standards and assisting in the planning of new courthouses.