HB610 (2006) Detail

Relative to the right to trial by jury in parental rights termination cases.


HB 610-FN – AS INTRODUCED

2005 SESSION

05-0094

09/10

HOUSE BILL 610-FN

AN ACT relative to the right to trial by jury in parental rights termination cases.

SPONSORS: Rep. Itse, Rock 9; Rep. Albert, Straf 1; Rep. Adams, Hills 2

COMMITTEE: Children and Family Law

ANALYSIS

This bill establishes a right to trial by jury for any persons at risk of having their parental rights terminated.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

05-0094

09/10

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five

AN ACT relative to the right to trial by jury in parental rights termination cases.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Termination of Parental Rights; Court Hearings; Right to Trial by Jury. Amend RSA 170-C:10 to read as follows:

170-C:10 Hearing.

I. Except as provided in paragraph II, cases under this chapter shall be heard by the court sitting without a jury. In cases heard by the court, the hearing may be conducted in an informal manner and may be adjourned from time to time. The general public and any member of the news media shall be excluded, and only such persons admitted whose presence is requested by any person entitled to notice under RSA 170-C:7 or as the judge shall find to have a direct interest in the case or in the work of the court; provided that persons so admitted shall not disclose any information secured at the hearing which would identify an individual child or parent who is involved in the hearing. The court may require the presence of witnesses deemed necessary to the disposition of the petition. When termination of the parent-child relationship is sought, the parent shall be notified at the same time notice is given pursuant to RSA 170-C:7 of his or her right to counsel, and if counsel is requested and the parent is financially unable to employ counsel, counsel shall be provided by the court. The court’s finding with respect to grounds for termination shall be based upon clear and convincing evidence, provided that relevant and material information of any nature, including that contained in reports, studies or examinations, may be admitted and relied upon to the extent of its probative value. When information contained in a report, study or examination is admitted in evidence, the person making such a report, study or examination shall be subject to both direct and cross-examination if he or she is residing or working within the state, or if he or she is otherwise reasonably available.

II. Any person at risk of having his or her parental rights terminated under this chapter shall have the right to a trial by jury upon written request. Any case for which a trial by jury is requested shall be transferred to the superior court.

2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2006.

LBAO

05-0094

9/15/05

HB 610 FISCAL NOTE

AN ACT relative to the right to trial by jury in parental rights termination cases.

FISCAL IMPACT:

The Judicial Branch and Department of Health and Human Services state this bill will increase state revenue and expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2006 and each year thereafter. There will be no impact on county and local revenue or expenditures.

METHODOLOGY:

The Judicial Branch stated that in 2004 there were 327 terminations of parental rights proceedings in the probate court and family division. Of this number, 50% are contested, resulting in 163 trials annually. The Branch assumed the average trial length for these cases would be a day and one-half. The cost for a full day’s trial in the superior court is $1,518.18, which results in an average cost per case of $2,277.27 (1-1/2 x 1,518.18). The Branch determined a range of costs from $75,150 to $223,172 based on the percentage of cases choosing a jury trial being between 20% and 60%. In addition, costs will be incurred to pay mileage to jurors, clerical processing time and the cost of impaneling jurors.

The Department of Health and Human Services stated it averages 135 termination of parental rights filings per year, and expects the number to increase due to the requirements of the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act, which will expedite permanent placements for children in foster care. The Department assumes jury trials would last 4-6 days, and the time needed for legal staff to prepare for cases would increase. The Department indicated that if half of the cases request jury trials, four additional attorneys would be needed to respond to the additional workload. Federal funds would be available to cover half of these costs which are as follows:

 

FY 2006

FY 2007

FY 2008

FY 2009

4 Attorney I’s, LG 26

$ 78,780

$164,660

$171,992

$179,712

Benefits at 44%

34,663

72,450

75,676

79,073

Current Expenses: (postage, supplies, telephone)

4,000

8,000

8,000

8,000

In-State Travel

4,000

8,000

8,000

8,000

Equipment

 16,000

0

0

0

Total Expenditures

$137,443

$253,110

$263,668

$274,785

Federal Funds

$ 68,722

$126,555

$131,834

$137,393

General Funds

$ 68,722

$126,555

$131,834

$137,393

In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services expressed concern that an increase in jury trials may lead to delays, which may prolong children’s time in foster care, making it difficult for the state to achieve timely placement and possibly jeopardizing the receipt of federal funds.

Links

HB610 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

HB610 Revision: 10125 Date: Jan. 21, 2010, midnight

Docket