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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Legislators VS. Judicial VS. Common sense not so much ...

House, courts at odds | Concord Monitor: Rather common sense seems to be not so common as this debate lingers on; and the bull coming out from both sides egos now, really read between the lines...

"Last-minute legislation co-authored by House Speaker Bill O'Brien has court officials predicting that, if passed, the state's district, probate and family courts will revert to costly, inconsistent "fiefdoms." Really, well as a citizen who has tried to get contempt charges into a NH Court since filing in October 2011; under NH RSA 461:A it should have been heard in 30 days; and yet it has been "rescheduled" now for the 4th time due to the Judicial Branch to be heard on May 25th. I would have to say that the Court's are already inconsistent.

If the amendment returns control and management of the lower courts to the judges sitting in them and no longer leave it's to the central office in Concord which actually has been around for a while providing extra jobs; albeit not accountability across the board; that sounds worst than where we are now. Speaking without looking at the proposal because the Concord Monitor does not provide a link to it; typical; but they do bring out the horrendous logic contained in it. What legislator's should be doing is working to make that office accountable and make the Judicial Branch ACCOUNTABLE AND CONSISTENT across the board! 

"Court officials told an unsympathetic House Judiciary Committee last week that the move would reverse decades of improvements that have made the lower courts more uniform and efficient." Sorry, I am pretty sure they are not talking about New Hampshire.  If Chief Justice Linda Dalianis testified that there was $2.3 million in savings over the last 10 months due to greater central control; why are the courts not open a FULL WEEK; why are they not hearing cases in a consistent manner?

"Amherst Rep. Robert Rowe, is a retired Judge who chairs the committee and co-authored the amendment, and he more than most would be pretty aware of the Judicial Branch's inability to be a uniform and consistent operation; however, his reasoning as this article moves along shows can only be from days gone by when the courts were not as large as they are today.

 "A call center  that takes nearly 1,500 calls a day," is indicative of courts that are not processing cases in a timely manner even in light of being closed two or more at least half days a week; and that the inconsistency in the system requires users must ask a lot of questions.

OUCH, HERE Delanis may be right.....Rowe said the lower court "judges especially fear retaliation from supervisors if identified. Their gripe, Rowe said, is that they no longer have any authority in their courthouses beyond adjudicating cases. That is of course their only role. "(A judge) can't supervise or discipline court personnel that are not performing his or her job,"  Nor should they be able to, that is not their job; it is the Clerk of Court's job and Judges should be forwarding their complaints to them; for example the inconsistencies in the Nashua, NH Superior Court; comes under the Clerk of Court and Judges should be especially concerned over their new "court coordinators" that are holding back divorce cases; a recent example shows a couple who filed a joint petition for divorce with no outstanding issues to be decided by a Judge; it just needs to be signed. However, now before the Judge even sees the case; a court coordinator halted the progress by demanding financials in a case that didn't call for them; all assets and child support had been divided agreed upon and neither party wanted to share their financials. Judges should be reporting to the Clerks of Court that the unauthorized practice of law will not be tolerated and together should be putting a stop to overzealous "clerks" who have no authority to make such decisions; the idea was to help streamline cases not entertain busybody "clerks" whose only agenda is to be nosey.

Furthermore, Judges should not be playing a micromanagement role; they are there to hear cases decide on them and keep the flow of traffic moving; Clerks of Courts (Whether it is a Judge or Lawyer) need to fire lazy meddlesome employees and run their offices with efficiency, something covered in their business management classes; and if they haven't had a background in business and law we should be very concerned.
Procedures and Administration should be consistently controlled from Concord in conjunction with and under the leadership of the Chief Justice and the legislative committee to be sure they are actually understandable since the National Center on State Courts reports that in 85% of civil cases in New Hampshire one party is a pro se litigant.

Dealing with individuals bad behavior should be handled by the "Clerk of the Court" as heard about by the Judge, other Attorneys and the public's complaints.  The Judge is there to hear cases period; no where does it say he/she is the end all; of how the courts operate and that would be bad. Rowe is wrong. If Rowe said "Judge Ed Kelly, who heads the court, and Judge David King, who serves as his deputy, would strictly hear cases." Well, it should be an either or thing they are administrators or they are Judge's obviously Kelly is failing or there wouldn't be this much controversy surrounding the issue.  

The Court's need accountability and consistency; Judge Kelly has failed because he does not know how to provide that or how to keep his Clerk's of Court and/or Judges accountable with appropriate sanctions and discipline standards across the board, or any type of consistency; the Judicial Conduct Committee made up of mostly Judges, Lawyers and appointed linked professionals has no stats, no public sensor and provides no leadership in controlling the professionals under their watch; they do consistently hide their misdeeds under the rug though. Rowe actually told a group of students in the last couple of years that the Court System is very much the "the old boys network". Hopefully, Delanis can break through the barriers by actually demanding consistency in administration and following the laws set out by legislators; and reining her employees in across the board with meaningful reprimands.

Now the article states that "The administration would be left to the chief justice, who would be allowed to appoint a non-judge administrator. But the courthouses would be managed by a presiding judge assigned there"  Hello, Legislators that is exactly the problem, Judges need to adjudicate cases not micro manage.

"Rowe said there is no way Kelly or King, sitting centrally, can know what sorts of problems the circuit court in Colebrook or Nashua are facing. He said judges have told him that when clerks in the courthouse fail to do their work or are rude to the public, they can do nothing about it."  The problem is with the Clerks of those courts the Judges have enough to do and they are more often than not part of the same complaints; if Kelly actually acted on any of the complaints coming across his desk and got off his derrière to see what is happening in the state and have training's for consistency across the board he would be an affective manager.  Perhaps what Dalanis should be doing is looking for someone new.

"Rowe said. "It won't cost any money. All it does is give the local judge a little more say in managing the staff. That is all it does."  Really, what does the Clerk of Court do then? Judges should only be managing their direct staff and when an issue arises forwarding it to the clerk to take care of.  And the Clerks should be consistent in their demerit system and get rid of employees who do not act in a manner that serves the Judge or the Public. Its called Human Resources.

Central management can provide consistency when it is issued from a strong central manager - obviously not found in Judge Kelly. A presiding Judge is there to make sure the Judges and Marital Masters that are not suppose to be there but are under him/her are doing their jobs consistently and in line with ethics and wow the law not a wholly new concept.

The administration is rightly left with the Clerk of Court under Central Management to provided fluid uninterrupted consistency across the State and they should set up a line of discplinary action with their employees unions to get rid of the ones who think they are in someway owed a job. 

This amendment by Rowe WILL result in adverse changes in the circuit court, "Rowe said. "It won't cost any money. All it does is give the local judge a little more say in managing the staff. That is all it does." What it really does is feeds some already over inflated ego's; times have changed and while I do respect and have deep appreciation and respect for Rowe this time, I respectfully disagree and welcome him to discover a new age.

Dalianis appears to have a better picture and the ability to realize that Rowe's proposal will result in the same old "individual judges causing the processing of cases to fall behind; not recognizing standardized forms, procedures, court rules and the law; not working to make court records available online; a hole in the records due to their private biases.

Dalianis actions and ability to listen and attempt to compromise with the Legislators reminds me of this ...“The key is to just get on the bike, and the key to getting on the bike… is to stop thinking about ‘there are a bunch of reasons I might fall off’ and just hop on and peddle the damned thing. You can pick up a map, a tire pump, and better footwear along the way.”  -Dick Costolo, founder of Feedburner.com

To the Legislators and Judicial Branch - Winston Churchill once said "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile -- hoping it will eat him last"; he should know Neville Chamberlain appeased Hitler and look where that left us. It's time both sides look at the big picture you can't place missile's in Turkey directed at the Soviet Union and not expect a tit for tat when they place missiles in Cuba. 

Demand accountability and make the changes necessary to achieve it; learn from the past and listen to both sides; right now your both reacting without accepting responsibility and making meaningful changes to a Judicial System is that is quickly sinking its not that hard to root out the real problem's and fix them.

The amendment will go to the full House on Tuesday. Contact your legislators before Tuesday and tell them to work it out.

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx


 

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