Definitions

district court judge

New Hampshire District Court

The New Hampshire District Court is the "community court" of the U.S. state of New Hampshire, located in 36 cities and towns. The District Court has jurisdiction over all juvenile matters, domestic violence cases, violation and misdemeanor level offenses, small claims, landlord-tenant issues and other civil cases. Upon the creation of the District Court in 1963, it effectively abolished the state Municipal Courts.

Jurisdiction

The District Court has jurisdiction in the following matters:

  • Misdemeanor and criminal offenses
  • Civil cases in which the damages claimed, excluding real estate titles, not exceeding $1,500
  • The court shares jurisdiction over civil actions for damages in which the damages claimed, excluding real estate titles, not exceeding $25,000 up to $50,000 as permitted by the state Supreme Court.
  • The court shares jurisdiction over domestic violence cases with the Superior Court.

Organization

The District Court has 36 courts located in 34 districts. The districts were devised by the General Court so that each District Court would be within 20 miles of the inhabitants of each district. The District Court has 19 fulltime judges and 50 part time judges.

Appointment

Part II, Article 46 of the state constitution, states all judicial officers shall be nominated and appointed by the Governor and Executive Council. It also states that such nominations shall be made at least three days prior to such appointment and no such appointment shall take place unless a majority of the council agrees.

Length of Tenure

All judicial officers hold their offices during "good behavior," according to Part II, Article 73 of the state constitution. Part II Article 78 of the state constitution requires Judges retire at the age of seventy years old.

Salary

The salaries of the District Court judges and other state judges are set by the General Court. In the District Court salaries are weighted based on the caseload of the court from the previous year. Associate judges also receive a weighted salary, but can make no more than 70% of a District Court judge.

History

In 1963, district courts were created by the legislature to replace the existing municipal courts. RSA 502-A:35, effective July 1, 1964, abolished all Municipal Courts, unless cities and towns voted by ballot to "continue to maintain its existing municipal court so long as its present judge remains in office." The law required that once there was a vacancy on the Municipal Court judge, it could not be filled and that court would be abolished and its jurisdiction transferred to the appropriate District Court.

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