A few years ago, our Court systems faced a significant problem. The model they had structured themselves with was not working, cases were being delayed, and litigants were being frustrated. The New Hampshire legal community, Administrative Office of the Courts, and the legislature got together and completely reformed our court system. Out went the old, and in came the new Circuit Courts.
While many people have not had issues with the new Circuit Courts, it is important to understand a few of the more important changes as part of this reconstruction project. First, the Courts are generally all located in the same physical place, but they now bear new names, like the 10th Circuit Court – Family Division at Derry, which used to be the Derry Family Court. A call center has also been initiated, which has freed up the clerks to process Court orders and do other paperwork that was being delayed by their interactions on the phone. While the transition has been slow and methodical, many callers find themselves having their questions answered by the call center now and not the specific Courts.
However, not all changes have been met with positive results. For instance, many people are not aware that the Court will unilaterally close a court file if the last order was issued over thirty days in the past, and no pending motions or hearings are scheduled. This can come as quite the surprise, as it now costs about $150.00 to reopen those files and have new or old issues addressed.
It is also important to make sure you know the docket number to your case. If you do not know it, the Courts can require you to file a request for information that costs $20.00 to file. The docket number is the number assigned to your specific case. It includes the Court code, the year the action was first initiated, letters symbolizing the type of case it is, and finally a number that specifically identifies your case. It is a very important number to remember, and you should always make note of your docket number if you are involved in the New Hampshire Court system.
At Parnell, Michels & McKay, we have a tremendous amount of experience navigating the New Hampshire Court system, both old and new. If you find yourself in need of legal help, contact us today.