New Hampshire Court Records
New Hampshire court records are maintained by the clerk within traffic, civil, or criminal proceedings within the court and any appeals. They also include motions, order transcripts, jury verdicts, and other associated materials. The documentation may be valuable for understanding persuasive arguments to the courts and underlying issues. Records and briefs can also serve practitioners considering examples of how specific documents are formatted or presented to specific courts in light of applicable regulations.
The Right to Know law statute provides individuals access to public records, although it does not necessarily apply to court documentation. New Hampshire courts, though, have set regulations to give access to these records. As per Rule 1.26 of the New Hampshire Rules of the Circuit Court of the State, any individual not otherwise entitled to access can file motions for access to sealed records. If the case is open, the individual filing should provide parties to the proceeding with appropriate notice of the motion by mailing to their addresses.
If it is a closed case, the courts must order the petitioner to notify the parties to grant access by certified mail from their last verified address. The addressee should sign it unless the court determines that another mode of access grant is approved within the circumstances.
Unless ordered by the courts, though, some cases are not open for public inspection. These include termination of parental rights, juvenile cases, pending applications for search or arrest reports, applications for wiretaps, or grand jury records. Before court records become sealed, the appropriate court has to determine if a reasonable option exists to make it confidential. They also have to use the least restrictive way of accomplishing the purpose once the court record is sealed. Any documents that are not subject to disclosure, though, except on order of the courts, are mandated to be kept within a separate section of the court files. These are only accessed by the clerk and their office staff.
Which New Hampshire Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
New Hampshire Supreme Court
The New Hampshire judicial system comprises Supreme, Superior, Circuit, District, Family, and probate division courts. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review all appeals from the trial courts and administrative agencies. It also has jurisdiction concerning prohibitions, habeas corpus, or any other writs. The Supreme Court corrects the errors made within the circuit, district, superior, or family courts, interpreting case law and statutes. It does allow access to non-confidential court records by any interested party, provided there are no contravening restrictions. The information provided does not entail confidential cases, guardianship of minors, or mental health-related cases.
The Superior Court in New Hampshire presides over all civil and criminal cases with the exception of those exclusively subject to the circuit court jurisdiction. There is one Superior Court in every New Hampshire County. Hillsborough County, though, has two Superior Courts. The Superior Court also handles contracts, negligence cases, real property rights, or civil matters with a claim of $1,500. The Superior Court also has exclusive jurisdiction over cases where the damage is over $25,000. They take on misdemeanor appeals from the Circuit Court District Division.
New Hampshire Circuit Courts
These were a combination of the District, Family, and Probate courts with centralized management. Circuit courts have the judicial authority to hear cases across the District, Family, and probate-type divisions. New Hampshire also has ten circuits that cater to each county. There are also 34 Circuit courts within the circuits that serve the local communities.
As part of the circuit court, this category handles misdemeanor and small violation offenses like small claims, stalking, landlord-tenant, civil cases, and motor vehicle matters. There are 32 district divisions in every Circuit court across the state. Interested parties are also allowed to access records from the district courts via the clerks serving at the specific courthouses. That is provided there are no legal issues.
Probate courts have jurisdiction over matters concerning adoption, termination of parenting rights, trusts, wills, guardianship, equity, name changes, and involuntary commitment. The judicial officers from the probate courts decide whether an adult should be committed to the care of a state hospital following a hearing testimony. They are to assess if the individual in question is a danger to themselves or others. Probate courts also decide if guardians should be appointed to make a decision concerning a person’s financial health and well-being.
The family court has jurisdiction over domestic matters such as parenting, minor guardianship, abuse or neglect, and child support. It also deals with children in need or divorce-related situations. Mediation is emphasized within family cases in New Hampshire, especially when children are present. However, the overall decision is made by the judge. Any recommendation made by the mediator or child support referee is to be approved by a judge. The ten counties have 28 family divisions catering to the population.
What are the Common Public Court Records in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire's judicial system presumes public access to court records provided there are no legal restrictions. It also maintains a culture of transparency so every citizen has the right to access justice. The categories of court records in New Hampshire are as follows.
New Hampshire Small Claims and Civil Court Records
Civil and small claims court records are distinct categories that result in punitive action against the accused rather than prison time. That is, fines or actions the claimant requests to resolve the damages inflicted. The difference between the two, though, is the money that is sought in both instances. For small claims, the maximum is $10,000, and they do not involve real estate cases. In civil cases, the damages may not exceed $25,000; if they do, the case must be filed in the Superior court.
Civil complaints, though, are typically filed in the district division. Other civil actions filed within the District courts include cease and desist, eviction orders, revocation of permits to carry a pistol, suspension, and appeals from denial. These records can be accessed.
In cases where the claim is above $1,500, the defendant can ask for a jury-type trial. The parties of the case are also notified in the event a case goes to the Superior Court for trial by jury. Though it is not required when it comes to Small Claims Courts, any individual in proceedings can be represented by attorneys. The filers of circuit, or district civil and small claims court records, are responsible for ensuring confidential information is redacted or identified so it can be blotted out.
Civil cases filed after 2004 are maintained in an electronic format within the specific court’s case management system. Interested parties may access the records via PACER. The platform does require a login, though. For confidential records, only legal representatives, parties to the case, or court officials may access the documentation. Alternatively, members of the public may access the files from the clerk’s office, which keep the files on-site for one year after a civil matter is closed. They are then transferred to the national archives and records administration federal records center. There they are stored for 15 years.
New Hampshire Criminal Court Records
New Hampshire criminal records include information on citizen engagement with law enforcement, resulting in charges or convictions following court cases. They are important for law enforcement agencies, employers, and other individuals that would like to make informed decisions about the people in their lives. Criminal court records can be used to determine past involvement in crimes and run-ins with the law. They may also be used as proof of integrity for employers and educational facilities.
Unfortunately, most criminal records are designated confidential within New Hampshire, so they cannot be accessed via the statewide case search platform. Criminal records, though, may be accessed from the New Hampshire state police located in Concord. Requesters can also mail an application to their offices for criminal backgrounds. Criminal cases filed after January 2005 are also maintained in electronic format on the court's case management system. Though, this would also require a PACER login which may be limited to the legal representatives, court staff, or parties to the case. The clerk’s office where the case was deliberated does maintain records for two years after it was closed.
After that, they are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration Federal Records Center. Cases which are stored at this facility are available for public review. On the expiration of the 15-year period though the NARA FRC destroys some files though the others are designated as permanent records.
New Hampshire Probate Records
Probate records include wills, bonds, petitions, depositions, guardianship, administrations, and decrees. Probate judges, though, preside over the cases from the courthouses in each of New Hampshire’s ten counties. In matters of conflict, though, the probate division has a mediation program where assigned mediators help settle disputes. The service comes free of charge. Probate records can be sourced by contacting the court clerk serving the courthouse where the case was heard. Alternatively, viewing probate records via the state case search platform is possible.
New Hampshire Family Records
These records include information on legal proceedings such as divorce, child custody, child support, and adoption. The records are covered by the family division of the circuit court, which operates 28 locations within the state’s ten counties. They can be accessed via the court clerk serving the courthouse where the case was heard. Alternatively, viewing the non-confidential files using the PACER login is possible. Confidential records entailing child custody, juveniles, or abuse are only available to legal representatives, law enforcement, or the parties to the case.
New Hampshire Bankruptcy Records
Bankruptcy records inform interested parties when companies have become defunct or cannot pay their creditors. Some bankruptcy cases are filed to allow the debtor time to reorganize or create a plan for paying the creditors. Though in other cases, it may involve liquidation of the debtor’s property. For most bankruptcy cases involving liquidation, there are few resources from the debtor's estate used to pay the creditors. In other cases, though, the disputes may result in litigation concerning the ownership of the property or how it needs to be used.
It also considers the estate's worth, how much is owed, and whether the debtor must be discharged from the debts. Litigation is done in a similar manner as would be in the civil cases that are handled at the district court. That includes pretrial proceedings, discovery of assets, and efforts to settle with creditors before the trial. New Hampshire’s bankruptcy court is located at Warren B. Rudman U.S. Courthouse. Interested parties may contact the court clerk for relevant records, provided they are non-confidential. It is also possible to access the records using the Case Locator on the PACER platform. That requires one to register an account or log in.
Does New Hampshire Have a Case Search?
Remote access is the fastest way to access records, especially if one has a case number. New Hampshire allows interested parties to find their case number online along with relevant records. Accessing case records without the case number is still possible, but it takes more time as the requester has to input other information like the party names, dates of birth, court types, or case types. The state also allows individuals to view these records using the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Case Access Portal.
It requires registering and signing in, should there already be an account. The platform allows a choice of names and searches to view the available records.
The Public Access to Court Electronic Records serves requesters on a federal basis though it can be used to access New Hampshire court documentation. PACER provides the public instant access to more than a billion documents filed by the state and federal courts. Some records are not available to interested parties, though, due to confidentiality. Those that entail criminal records, divorce, bankruptcy, child custody, abuse, or juveniles are only available to eligible requesters. Court record fees for online searches depend on the type and certification of the documents.
Counties in New Hampshire
Courts in New Hampshire
List of Content
- Which New Hampshire Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?
- What are the Common Public Court Records in New Hampshire?
- Does New Hampshire Have a Case Search?