Judges in New Hampshire’s state courts, after their appointment by the governor and confirmation by the state’s executive council, serve until age 70, must to the angst of several members of the legislature. CACR 11, introduced initially in 2011, would replace this with 5-year terms subject to reappointment and reconfirmation.
The bill initially failed in November 2011 when the House Judiciary Committee recommended its rejection on a 10-6 vote. It was then recommitted to the Judiciary Committee by the full House and then swiftly moved to another committee (the House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee) which had previously approved several anti-judiciary bills. That committee expanded the term to 7 years and provided that the new rule would only apply to judges appointed after 1/1/2012. The revised version was recommended for passage on a 10-5 vote. The House then voted on March 7, giving it a majority (218-120) but not the 3/5ths of the full membership (240 out of 400) needed for passage under the state’s constitution. The bill was tabled 244-97.
This morning votes were expected on two pieces of legislation that would curtail or end the state supreme court’s rule making authority. Instead, a motion was made to take CACR 11 off the table, which was approved 209-144.
The bill was then debated, including several references to possible Senate action on an unspecified House bill that is currently in the Senate for a hearing soon. The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to take up three House bills tomorrow March 21: HB 344 relative to judicial performance evaluations, HB 1384 relative to the statute of limitations for complaints against judges, and HB 151 repealing the laws relative to marital masters.
The House voted 156-200 to reject a motion that the bill was “Inexpedient to Legislate” and then went into lunch until 1:10 PM Eastern.
Live coverage of this afternoon’s House activity is available here.
Update 3/21/12 @ 1:27 P.M. The House rejected a motion to reconsider the actions taken on March 7 by a 172-176 vote. The Speaker has stated from the chair that there is no further legislative activity to be had on this matter.