Unanimous opposition to making spouses pay court fines - 136 participants, 233 responses

Jun 11, 2016

The New Hampshire Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules is considering changes to rules that govern how judges deal with low-income people unable to pay court fines. One rule proposed by Supreme Court Justice Robert Lynn would allow a judge to consider the income from a defendant’s spouse. On June 11, the LFDA decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should spouses/partners be held responsible for a partner’s court fines?”

“Should spouses/partners be held responsible for a partner’s court fines?”

Results: Yes or No Respondents

Participation:

A total of 91% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 9% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, the LFDA received 233 responses from 136 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said:

No: ‘Yes or no’ respondents unanimously opposed making spouses responsible for their partner’s court fines.

  • “If someone does something that issues a fine or fee they should take care of expenses themselves or maybe do some community work.”
  • “Why does the government penalize one person for the actions of another? You are responsible for no one's actions but your own.”
  • “The state administrative judges and the NH ACLU sat down and crafted a very well thought out proposal for how to deal with unpaid court fines. Justice Lynn's alternative proposals seemed amateurish, arbitrary and vengeful.”

Other: As noted above, 9% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • The financial implications of marriage: “A spouse can be held responsible for their partner's debt whatever the source.”
  • Civil justice issues: “When women won the battle for equal rights and became accepted into the workplace they won the right to be men's equals.”
  • Taxation and government funding: “Sadly here in NH is just like Mass: it’s all about the money.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

Know someone who would be interested in these results? Forward them the summary version of this report. 

Do you think spouses should be held responsible for their partner’s court fines? Leave a comment and have your say! 

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