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How Does The New Hampshire Superior Court Work?

New Hampshire Superior Courts are trial courts that handle different types of cases. The court conducts trials using the jury and non-jury system. It is the only court in the state that can conduct a trial by jury. The jurisdiction of the New Hampshire Superior Courts extends to both civil and criminal matters.

The court has exclusive jurisdiction over petitions for injunctive relief from court orders. It also has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from zoning and planning board decisions, disputes over title to real estate, and petitions to enforce contracts. Generally, the Superior Courts handle cases relating to:

  • Personal Injury actions
  • Medical and legal malpractice claims
  • Property line disputes
  • Zoning and Planning Board appeals
  • Felony criminal jury trials (includes crimes like Burglary, theft, drugs, aggravated sexual assault)
  • Appeals of the Circuit Court decision on misdemeanors
  • Negligence
  • Contracts
  • Damage claims exceed $25,000

A Business and Commercial Dispute Docket was established in 2008 for adjudicating over complex business matters that may involve potential damages above $50,000. The Business Court Justice remains a Superior Court Justice and is only given this extra responsibility. Note that parties may not be forced to utilize the Business Court.

RSA 491:7-a outlines the conditions where the Business Court may be utilized in settling disputes. In civil cases, parties are mandated to go through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process. This may either be mediation or arbitration. The Superior Court may grant an exception if the parties have already participated in arbitration with a neutral party. The court may also exempt the parties for Good Cause. To initiate a civil action in the Supreme Court, the claimant is required to make some filings. These are a complaint, an appearance, and a filing fee or a motion to waive the filing fee. 

In criminal cases, felony settlement conferences may be used for evaluative, facilitative, or restorative purposes. Felony settlement conferences can be instituted at any stage in the proceedings. However, parties must agree before the process is adopted. There are some forms that parties may use to initiate any form of action at New Hampshire Superior Courts. These forms are all in PDF and may be downloaded or printed out for filling. 

A party that has been arrested on felony charges and has been assigned an arraignment date may fill a Request For Lawyer form. Note that the court makes provision for e-filing. This procedure can be used for both criminal and civil trials. To take advantage of the e-filing system, an intending user must register as a law firm. Upon registration, other users may be easily added. In criminal cases, only attorneys are permitted to file.

There are twenty-one Superior Court Justices and two ‘Senior Justices’ that have retained active status. The governor appoints Superior Court Justices with the approval of the State Executive Council. Superior Court Justices hold office until they are 70. However, a Justice may choose to retire before reaching the age of 70. The Chief Justice of the Superior Court is chosen by the governor, subject to the Executive Council’s approval.

Superior Court Justices are evaluated at least once every three years based on the judicial performance evaluation program. When there is a vacancy, the governor nominates a replacement from a list prepared by the New Hampshire Judicial Selection Commission. This nomination is forwarded to the Executive Council for approval or rejection.

There are eleven Superior Courts in New Hampshire. There is a Superior Court in all ten counties in New Hampshire except for Hillsborough County, which has two. The court encourages the public to visit any of its locations to observe how justice is being dispensed. Tours can be scheduled by calling the Court’s Public Information Office at (603) 271–2646, extension 2362.

Superior Court orders and decisions are available to the public. To obtain a court record, a requester could fill a Record Search Request Form. Alternatively, complete the form online. Note that this service will attract a nominal fee depending on the volume of the request. Mail or hand-deliver the completed form to: 

New Hampshire Judicial Branch Administrative Offices

Attention: Central Processing Center

1 Granite Place, Suite N400

Concord, NH 03301

If the case number is available, visit the actual court at one of the locations below and provide the case number for a search. Generally, the court is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except on public holidays. This search will not attract a fee.

Belknap Superior Court

64 Court Street

Laconia, NH 03246

Phone: (603) 271–2030

Carroll County Courthouse

96 Water Village Road - Box 3

Ossipee, NH 03864

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Cheshire County Superior Court

33 Winter Street, Suite 2

Keene, NH 03431

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Coos Superior Court

55 School Street, Suite 301

Lancaster, NH 03584

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Grafton Superior Court

3785 Dartmouth College Highway

North Haverhill, NH 03774

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Hillsborough County Superior Court North

300 Chestnut Street

Manchester, NH 03101

Phone: (855)212–1234

Hillsborough County Superior Court South

30 Spring Street

Nashua, NH 03060

Phone: (855)212–1234

Merrimack Superior Court

5 Court Street

Concord, NH 03301

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Rockingham Superior Court

Rockingham County Courthouse

10 Route 125

Brentwood, NH 03833

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Strafford County Superior Court

William A. Grimes Justice & Administration Building

259 County Farm Road, Suite 301

Dover, NH 03820

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Sullivan Superior Court

22 Main Street

Newport, NH 03773

Phone: (855) 212–1234

Some specific Superior Court orders and Business and Commercial Dispute docket orders are available online. However, not all Superior Court orders are accessible through this medium. The decision on reproducing the orders online is made by the trial judge or the master who gave the order. A decision to reproduce is based on three criteria:

  • The order addresses an issue of law. 
  • The issue of law has a possibility of recurrence. 
  • There is a final decision on the issue by the Superior Court.
  • Criminal Records
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  • Civil Judgements
  • Federal Dockets
  • Probate Records
  • Marriage Records
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  • Asset Records
  • Business Ownership
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  • And More!

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