I previously posted about Governor Lynch’s plan to close the budget shortfall by closing eight district courts, three of which house family divisions. One of those courts is the Colebrook District Court and Family Division, located in Northern New Hampshire’s Coos County. The Union Leader published an article today by Lorna Colquhoun raising concerns about the closure of the Colebrook District Court in particular.
One issue is the greater distances small town police officers will have to travel to court, not only because of the additional cost, but also due to additional time that it will take them away from their duties in the town.
"It presents a big problem," said Pittsburg police Chief Richard Lapoint, who is his town’s only full-time officer. "Time is a big factor. If I’m in Colebrook and something happens back here, I can respond just as quick as state police. From the police station to Lancaster is 55 miles and that can take an hour and 20 minutes to get back here."
Additionally, if the Colebrook court closes, parties will need to travel much farther to appear before the judge. Transfering operations from a court such as Hooksett District Court & Family Division to Concord District Court & Family Division where the locations are just thirteen miles apart with a large highway to travel up will not create such a hardship for the litigants. However, closing Colebrook and moving operations to Lancaster District Court creates a distance of at least thirty-seven miles, longer if the party is coming from the North side of Colebrook.
Colebrook police Chief Steve Cass and Lapoint cite
the example of a young mother in either community in need of a protective order. "Take a mother of two, who might be out of work," Cass said. "Dad has the only vehicle and now she has to try to get a ride to Lancaster to get before a judge."
If you have concerns about the court closures, make sure to contact your representative about the budget bills, which are due out of the finance committee on April 2nd and for a full house vote on April 8th.