New Hampshire Civil Court Records
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What are New Hampshire Civil Court Records?
Civil court records in the state of New Hampshire are public records that contain information on civil cases filed, tried, and determined in the state’s courts. These records include summons, notices, orders, sworn affidavits, witness testimonies, oral arguments, rulings, depositions, and judgments. In compliance with the New Hampshire Public Records Law § 91-A:4, court records are considered open to public inspection unless otherwise exempted by state statute or court rule.
Understanding The New Hampshire Civil Court System
The New Hampshire Judiciary comprises the following courts:
- New Hampshire Supreme Court
- New Hampshire Superior Court
- New Hampshire Circuit Court
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. It is responsible for reviewing all civil cases appealed from the lower trial courts. The Superior Court of New Hampshire is a trial court of general jurisdiction. Its civil division handles cases of all monetary claims and property damages. The Circuit Court of New Hampshire handles about 90% of all cases filed in the entire court system. Currently, there are 10 circuit courts located in each county in the state.
Cases Heard by New Hampshire Civil Courts
Civil cases in the state of New Hampshire are legal disagreements between two or more individuals, businesses, corporations, and institutes. Some examples of cases heard by these courts include:
- Disputes relating to a breach of contract
- Cases involving negligence that lead to injury or death
- Negligence/tort claims resulting in personal injuries or damage to properties
- Disputes involving libels, slanders, and defamation of character
- Cases involving civil rights infringement, tax suits, immigration, labor, and social securities
- Cases arising as a result of Property condemnation, intellectual property theft, forfeiture of property, or bankruptcy
- Employment matters involving workers compensation
- Prisoner’s civil rights cases and petitions
- Disputes arising from other statutes such as consumer complaints, etc.
Most civil cases in the state are heard in an open setting. However, grand jury trials are heard in closed settings.
What Information is Contained in a New Hampshire Civil Court Record?
The information contained in a civil court record depends on the case type, court proceedings, and in part by the judge/jury discretion. Some of the information provided in a New Hampshire Court record include:
- Names and personal information of the parties to the case
- Case filing date and headline
- Case information (court type, court location, case number, case type, case status)
- Case overview/summary
- Names of assigned attorney(s) and presiding judge(s) in the case
- Hearing dates, time, and location
- Claims and counterclaims
- Date of final disposition/judgment
How to Find Civil Court Records in the State of New Hampshire
In accordance with the New Hampshire Court Records Guidelines, interested persons may view, inspect, and make copies of court records upon request. However, while all court records are presumed to be public, some records are sealed and thus restricted from public inspection. Members of the public can find New Hampshire civil court records by:
- making in-person requests to the court clerk
- searching the online databases maintained by courts and third-party aggregate sites
- sending written mail-in requests to the appropriate court
How to Access New Hampshire Civil Court Records in Person?
To obtain a civil court record in person, first identify the court where the case was filed and the records kept. Most small claims civil cases involving $25,000 or less are handled in the district divisions of the state’s circuit courts. Civil claims with higher values are heard in superior courts in New Hampshire. While recently closed and ongoing cases have files maintained in courthouses, some of the state’s courts store old court records in off-site locations. Records of cases reviewed by the appellate-level courts may be accessed in the Supreme Court, as well as from the particular superior and circuit courts where the cases were originally heard.
Before visiting a courthouse, find out the court’s requirements for accessing its records. The Office of the Clerk of Court will require certain information to help search for and retrieve case files. These include case numbers, names of the parties involved, and filing dates. The Clerk’s Office usually charges small fees to search for these records and provide copies. Find out the court’s search and copy fees by calling this office.
New Hampshire courthouses may also provide public access terminals. Accessing court records from these terminals is free. The terminals are open to the public during normal business hours. Sealed records and old paper records that were never digitized are inaccessible from these terminals. To access such records, visit the Clerk’s Office and submit a written request or a completed request form, if available.
How to Obtain New Hampshire Civil Court Records via Mail?
To obtain civil court records by mail, first establish that the court of interest offers this service. Call or email the Clerk of the Court to find out by using contact information obtained from the New Hampshire Courthouse Directories. Find out other requirements for requesting court records by mail. These should include information and documents required, courthouse mailing address, and required fees. Members of the public looking for civil court records in New Hampshire can also submit their requests to the state judiciary’s central processing center. Each request must include a completed request form, a self-addressed stamped return envelope, and a check or credit card information for search fee. Send this request to:
New Hampshire Judicial Branch Administrative Offices
Attention: Central Processing Center
1 Granite Place, Suite N400
Concord, NH 03301
How To Find New Hampshire Civil Court Records Online?
Civil court records in New Hampshire are accessible online from the case management portal provided by the state’s Judicial Branch. The state’s Supreme Court maintains an online court opinion docket where inquirers can view and inspect civil cases reviewed by the appellate court.
Similarly, publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in New Hampshire
Sealed civil court records in the state are records deemed confidential by the Court Records Guidelines. While access to these records is generally restricted, parties to the cases involved, their representative attorneys, certain law enforcement personnel, and some court officials can access them. A third party may access these records only if presenting a court order authorizing access to those specific records. To obtain this order, the third party must petition the court and convince a judge to unseal the records and make them available for public access.