HB1249 (2020) Detail

Relative to the legal representation of children in the juvenile justice system.










AN ACT relative to the legal representation of children in the juvenile justice system.


SPONSORS: Rep. Berrien, Rock. 18; Rep. Martin, Hills. 23; Rep. Rice, Hills. 37; Rep. Gordon, Graf. 9; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Reagan, Dist 17; Sen. Bradley, Dist 3


COMMITTEE: Children and Family Law






This bill directs the judicial council, in consultation with the judicial branch, the New Hampshire Bar Association, and others, to adopt standards relative to the legal representation of children in proceedings under RSA 169-B and RSA 169-D.


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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.






In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty


AN ACT relative to the legal representation of children in the juvenile justice system.


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


1  Statement of Findings.  The general court hereby finds that:

I.  The state's removal of a child from the home is one of the most significant actions it ever undertakes.  Such interventions are associated with the risk of a number of negative consequences for the child and the public, including:

(a)  The weakening of protective connections with parents, other family, school, and community.

(b)  Exiting school before high school graduation.

(c)  Homelessness.

(d)  Future delinquency and adult criminal involvement.

II.  Due process and other constitutional principles, as well as the statutory requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and RSA Chapters 169-B and 169-D, require that the removal of a child from the home last for no longer than is necessary to accomplish the rehabilitative and public protection purposes of the juvenile justice system.

III.  Therefore, courts should carefully and frequently monitor whether there is a continued justification for the separation of children from their families and communities.  The courts' ability to effectively conduct this monitoring is enhanced by the continuing participation of counsel for children, who can bring relevant information to the court's attention and advocate for children's release to their homes and communities.

IV.  It is also necessary for the protection of the welfare of children who have been placed outside their homes that any problems with the conditions of their placement or the appropriateness of their treatment be promptly brought to the attention of the courts and other authorities.  Continuing legal representation during periods of placement facilitate this important monitoring function.

V.  Finally, juvenile proceedings are frequently closely related to other matters involving the child and family, and effective legal representation in such proceedings may require some degree of involvement in those related matters.  Examples of such related matters are proceedings involving the proper identification of disabilities affecting the child's behavior, matters involving the level and types of services which a legally responsible entity must provide to a child with a disability, or disciplinary proceedings arising out of the same factual circumstances that gave rise to the court involvement.

2  New Section; Judicial Council; Quality Representation for Children.  Amend RSA 494 by inserting after section 3 the following new section:

494:3-a  Quality Representation for Children.  The judicial council shall develop and implement standards for the representation of children in cases arising out of RSA 169-B and RSA 169-D.

I.  Such standards shall be consistent with the professional obligations of attorneys practicing in the state and with the court's authority to regulate the practice of law.

II.  The standards shall provide for:

(a)  The continuous representation of children during the time that they are placed outside their home, separated from their parents or guardians, or otherwise subject to a significant restriction on their liberty.

(b)  Participation in post-disposition hearings, matters regarding the conditions of confinement or placement, and the timing of parole or other release from confinement or placement.

(c)  Involvement in ancillary proceedings which are closely related to the subject matter of the court proceedings or which may have an effect on the successful disposition of the court proceedings.

(d)  Consultation with experts in the physical and psychological development of children, the treatment needs of court-involved children, and the resources available within the system which provides for the behavioral health and other treatment needs of New Hampshire children.

III.  The standards shall be developed in consultation with the judicial branch, the New Hampshire Bar Association, New Hampshire Legal Assistance, the New Hampshire Public Defender, the Disability Rights Center of New Hampshire, and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire.

IV.  The standards shall be consistent with nationally recognized standards for the representation of court-involved children such as those developed by the American Bar Association and the National Juvenile Defender Center.

V.  The judicial council shall complete the initial development of the standards no later than July 1, 2021 and shall thereafter require adherence to the standards by entities subject to its jurisdiction providing representation to children who are respondents in cases under RSA 169-B and RSA 169-D.  The council shall review and, if appropriate, revise the standards every 5 years, or more frequently whenever it appears that changes in the juvenile justice system make review and revision appropriate.

VI.  Upon adoption of the standards, the judicial branch shall appoint counsel consistently with the standards and require adherence to them in cases under RSA 169-B and RSA 169-D.

3  Judicial Council; Periodic Revision of Compensation Rates.  Amend RSA 604-A:2-b to read as follows:

604-A:2-b  Contract Attorneys.  The state of New Hampshire, by the judicial council and with the approval of governor and council, may, within the limits of available appropriations, contract with any qualified attorney in the state to provide for the representation of indigents in circumstances where, pursuant to RSA 604-B, the public defender program is unavailable to provide such representation.  The executive director of the judicial council shall authorize payments to contract attorneys provided for under this section.  The judicial council shall periodically review and revise the rates of compensation for attorneys providing representation under this chapter so that the representation provided is consistent with constitutional and statutory requirements.

4  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.


HB1249 at GenCourtMobile
HB1249 Discussion

Action Dates

Date Body Type
March 3, 2020 House Hearing
March 3, 2020 House Exec Session

Bill Text Revisions

HB1249 Revision: 6925 Date: Dec. 2, 2019, 1:16 p.m.


Date Status
Jan. 8, 2020 Introduced 01/08/2020 and referred to Children and Family Law HJ 1 P. 15
March 3, 2020 Public Hearing: 03/03/2020 10:00 am LOB 206
March 3, 2020 Executive Session: 03/03/2020 03:00 pm LOB 206