Stating that highly qualified judges are essential for a fair, just and effective judicial system, Governor Maggie Hassan issued an Executive Order today establishing a Judicial Selection Commission to advise the Governor on judicial nominations. The Commission will broadly seek judicial candidates, evaluate all potential applicants and recommend qualified applicants based on experience, good character and judicial temperament.
"Ensuring an effective and fair judicial system in New Hampshire requires rising above partisanship and identifying individuals with utmost character, experience and integrity to serve as judges," Governor Hassan said. "Our commission will bring together individuals with a deep understanding of New Hampshire's system of justice in order to recommend highly qualified candidates to fill judicial vacancies."
All judicial nominations are subject to confirmation by the Executive Council, and the Governor's Judicial Selection Committee includes members with a wide range of experience in New Hampshire's system of justice representing each of the state's five Executive Council districts.
The commission will be co-chaired by Emily Rice, attorney at the Bernstein Shur law firm, and James Rosenberg, attorney at the Shaheen & Gordon law firm. Members include attorney Elliott Berry from New Hampshire Legal Assistance; Kathleen Goode, who served as director of appointments for both Governors Jeanne Shaheen and John Lynch; attorney Martha Hornick from the New Hampshire Public Defenders Office in Littleton; attorney Michael Lewis, a former homicide prosecutor with the New Hampshire Department of Justice and now an associate at the Rath, Young and Pignatelli law firm; Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau; Manchester Chief of Police David Mara; Arthur Nichols, President and CEO of Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene; attorney Wilfred Sanders, Jr., of the Pierce Atwood law firm; and Danette Wineberg, adjunct professor at the UNH School of Law and former Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for The Timberland Company.
Members will serve terms of three years, with the option of additional terms at the invitation of the Governor.
In evaluating applicants for judicial office, the Commission will consider such factors as integrity, legal knowledge and ability, judicial temperament, impartiality, commitment to justice, experience, diligence, administrative and communication skills, and public service. Applicants for judicial office shall be considered without regard to race, disability, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, familial status or political affiliation.
The Commission will initially focus on recruiting candidates to fill three upcoming vacancies on New Hampshire's Circuit Court due to the pending retirements of the Honorable Clifford Kinghorn, the Honorable Richard Hampe, and the Honorable Christina O'Neill.