New Hampshire Year in Review: Jury nullification, marital masters, judicial performance evaluations, drug courts

New laws affecting the courts enacted by the New Hampshire legislature in 2012 include the following:

HB 146 Jury nullification. Provides “In all criminal proceedings the court shall permit the defense to inform the jury of its right to judge the facts and the application of the law in relation to the facts in controversy.”

HB 151 Repeals the laws relative to marital masters on April 5, 2016, which is the date on which the last current marital master contracts expire. Clarifies that no marital master contracts shall be entered into or renewed by the state on or after the effective date of this act.

HB 344 Changes procedures for judicial performance evaluations. Expands evaluation to include “other nonjudicial branch officers as established by court rule”. Requires judges that fail to achieve satisfactory evaluation have follow-up evaluation 18 months later. Requires all reports prepared on judicial performance identify judges individually.

HB 1665 Enables superior court or circuit court to implement one or more drug courts.

HB 1722 Provides no attorney associated with a judge in the practice of law shall be permitted to practice in the division at the circuit court site in which the judge is assigned.