Students brief New Hampshire judges on the reception of the innovative program.
Three researchers from the Class of 1964 Policy Research Shop briefed a meeting of New Hampshire Superior Court judges this month on the effectiveness of criminal mediation across the state’s judicial system.
The analysis, commissioned by Chief Justice of the Superior Court Tina Nadeau, involved 20 interviews with county court clerks, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and other parties in nine of New Hampshire’s 10 counties (logistics prevented an interview in Merrimack County within the time frame).
And while there were some impediments to acceptance of the restorative justice alternative to criminal trials, such as a limited number of mediating judges, or a reluctance among some prosecutors to embrace the process when key facts remained in dispute, overall mediation is viewed positively by those interviewed, Dara Casey ’25, Jack Keating ’23, and Zoe McGuirk ’25 told the gathering of judges.
“New Hampshire is the pioneer of an innovative method of criminal justice and could become a national model. Its early successes and potential for even greater success illuminate an exciting path forward,” McGuirk told Nadeau and more than a dozen other judges at the meeting in Concord on April 14.
Among the report’s recommendations, based on interviews with court system participants, was standardization of memoranda outlining the facts from the attorneys to mediating judges in advance of mediation sessions; a more rigorous data collection process to record outcomes of mediation; and increasing the number of mediating justices.
“It is just an incredible opportunity to get to do this work at the direction of Justice Nadeau, one of the top practitioners of alternative dispute resolution,” Casey said after the presentation.
Nadeau is a leader in the development of drug courts in New Hampshire, which combine community-based treatment programs with strict court supervision and progressive incentives and sanctions. She is also a national advocate for the legal alternative that incorporates addiction and mental health treatment.
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