New Hampshire Court Records
How do New Hampshire Courts work?
The Supreme Court acts as the highest legal authority in the state of New Hampshire, and oversees the decisions made by the Court of Appeals. This gives the Supreme Court the chance to weigh in on key decisions, questions, and conflicts regarding cases. In turn, the Court of Appeals oversees the decisions made by lower courts if one party choses to contest. These lower courts come in the form of one of the 10 superior or trial courts in each of New Hampshire’s 10 counties. There are various other tiers of court in New Hampshire, including Circuit Court, District Division, Probate Division, Family Division and more.
Civil Cases and Small Claims
There are a number of differences between civil cases and small claims cases in the state of New Hampshire. Civil cases refer to those in which the particular petitioner is looking for over $150,000, of which there are around 175,000 per year. However, it isn’t only monetary disputes that civil courts deal with, as dispute over property, name changes, and restraining orders can also be heard in civil court. On the other hand, small claims court hears disputes over things such as warranties, loans, repairs, deposits and more. They deal with cases in which the petitioner is looking for $10,000 or under. Around 100,000 of these cases are filed annually, and are not represented by counsel.
Appeals and court limits
There are also differences between the appeals process and court limits in civil and small claims courts. For example, either party can appeal a decision made in civil court, but only the defendant can appeal in small claims cases. Only civil court cases allow pretrial discovery, with small claims court not allowing it. A person can also have a lawyer represent them in civil court, as well as file papers on their behalf, where as neither are allowed in small claims court. There is a $30-$100 filing fee for small claims court cases, and both parties are then given 30-70 days to complete their case. On the other hand, in civil court there is a $180-$320 filing fee per claim, with parties being given up to 120 days to complete their case. A person does not have to be a US citizen to file or defend in small claims court, and can use an interpreter if their English is not good enough.
Why are court records public?
The New Hampshire Right to Know Law was brought in back in 1976, with the latest changes to the law coming in 2002. The law aims to ensure that all residents of New Hampshire have the right and ability to access all public records. All records maintained by state or local government can be accessed and copied by the public. The aim is to promote transparency and to safeguard government accountability.
To acquire records:
New Hampshire Supreme Court
One Charles Doe Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Clerk of the Court: Eileen Fox
Phone: (603) 271-2646
Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Mon - Fri