New Hampshire State Court System

  • Circuit Court District Division: The Circuit District Division handles small claims and civil cases with damages of $1,500 or under. They share jurisdiction over civil cases with damages between $1,500 and $25,000.
  • Superior Court: The Superior Courts has jurisdiction over civil actions, including personal injury, with an amount in controversy over $1,500, with exclusive jurisdiction in most cases with an amount in controversy of over $25,000.
  • Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is the court of last resort and the only appellate court in New Hampshire. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review appeals from the trial courts.

*Some of the courts in the New Hampshire state court system also have jurisdiction over other proceedings which are not covered here.

Pleadings

In the beginning stages of a lawsuit legal documents called pleadings are filed. To initiate the lawsuit, the plaintiff files a pleading called a Complaint which sets forth one or more causes of action against the defendant(s) named in the Complaint. After the Plaintiff files the Complaint and properly serves the Complaint on the Defendant(s), the Defendant(s) then have 30 days from the date of service to file a pleading called an Answer. The Defendant(s)’ Answer will respond to each of the causes of action in the Plaintiff’s Complaint and set forth any defenses, cross claims and/or counter claims the Defendant(s) will raise.

Discovery

After all parties to the lawsuit have filed pleadings, the case then proceeds to Discovery. Essentially, the discovery process is a fact-finding and investigative endeavor in which each party gathers information and evidence from opposing parties and/or non-party witnesses. While the discovery process includes a variety of other mechanisms used to gather information, it will generally consist of the following:

  • Written Discovery: is generally used at the start of discovery and comes in two basic forms:

    • Interrogatories – Formal questions and/or requests for information served on one party by an opposing party. The party served with interrogatories must provide written responses to each of the interrogatories or respond with an objection to the interrogatory.
    • Requests for Production of Documents – Often served with a set of interrogatories, requests for production of documents are formal requests for certain documentation relevant to the claims and defenses raised in the pleadings.
  • Depositions: In a deposition, either a party to the lawsuit or a non-party witness will provide oral testimony under oath and in the presence of a court reporter who makes a written record of everything said during the deposition.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Judicial Branch Office of Mediation and Arbitration was established in July 2007 by the legislature to assume overall responsibility for managing, developing, and overseeing the court system’s dispute resolution programs. Mediation is used in a wide range of cases in the New Hampshire courts, including small claims, Family Division, Probate and non-criminal Superior Court cases.

When they arrive at court, both sides have an opportunity to meet with a mediator, assigned by the court clerk at no charge, to try to resolve their dispute before they go into the courtroom. If the sides meet but cannot agree on a resolution, a hearing is held immediately before a judge.

Trial

If the parties have not reached a settlement through mediation or otherwise, at the conclusion of discovery, the case then proceeds to trial. Depending on the complexity of the case, a trial can take as little as a single day or as long as several weeks to complete. At the conclusion of a typical civil trial, the jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff and award money damages to the plaintiff or the jury will return a verdict for the defendant finding that the defendant was not at fault.

Motions and Appeals

After a final judgment is entered, the party wishing to appeal must file a notice of appeal with the Clerk of the Court within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment.

Recovery

A judgment rendered in New Hampshire is valid for 6 years.

DISCLAIMER:

The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.

By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in New Hampshire. Should you have a question/concern specific to New Hampshire law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New Hampshire.