Judicial Conduct Committee Transparency

LFDA Editor

New Hampshire's Judicial Conduct Committee investigates alleged misconduct by judicial personnel, from a judge down to a court stenographer.

The committee consists of three judges, a clerk of court, two lawyers, and five lay persons. The committee may issue a warning, dispose of a grievance against a judge by informal agreement or adjustment, or recommend that the court impose formal discipline.

It used to be that the JCC executive secretary would send to newspapers copies of an order after a reprimand or other disciplinary action was taken by the committee. That practice stopped in 2009.



Transparency proponents argue that the dealings of the JCC should be open to as much public scrutiny as possible, since judges are public servants. 

Some citizens are especially suspicious of the JCC because Committee members are often current or former colleagues with judicial officials under investigation.


Portsmouth Attorney Wilfred Sanders, vice chairman of the JCC, says the fact that a reprimand is on file at the JCC's office in Newmarket and can be inspected by the public makes it public enough.

The Judicial Conduct Committee website also suggests that allowing the public too much involvement in the proceedings of the JCC could have a "chilling effect" on the ability of judges to act independent from outside influence.


Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment giving New Hampshire residents and the legislature more power to investigate and evaluate judicial conduct

Should the Judicial Conduct Committee actively inform the public about its proceedings?


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Issue Status

There are no recent bills regarding transparency in the Judicial Conduct Committee.


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