Jacques v. Commissioner, NH Dep't of Corrections, Doc. No. 2005-0540 (May 17, 2006)

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In Case No. 2005-0540, Paul R. Jacques & a. v. Commissioner, NH Department of Corrections & a., the court on May 17, 2006, issued the following order:

Having considered the briefs and the limited record provided on appeal, we conclude that oral argument is unnecessary for the disposition of this case and affirm the order of the trial court.

The petitioners appeal the dismissal of their claim against officials of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections. They argue that the trial court erred in finding that the documents that they sought were not subject to disclosure under the Right-to-Know Law, see RSA ch. 91-A (Supp. 2005), and in concluding that RSA 275:56 (1999) does not apply to employees of the State of New Hampshire.

In reviewing the trial court's grant of a motion to dismiss, our task is to ascertain whether the allegations pleaded by the petitioners in their petition are reasonably susceptible of a construction that would permit recovery. Berry v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc., 152 N.H. 407, 410 (2005). We assume all facts pleaded in the petition are true, and we construe all reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the petitioners' favor. Id. In this case, our ability to review the order of the trial court granting the State's motion to dismiss rests on our ability to review the petitioners' allegations. The petitioners have not provided us with a copy of their petition or a transcript of the hearing.

It is the burden of the appealing party, here the petitioners, to provide this court with a record sufficient to decide the issues on appeal. See Bean v. Red Oak Prop. Mgmt., 151 N.H. 248, 250 (2004); see also Sup. Ct. R. 13. Absent a copy of the petition or transcript of the hearing in the trial court, we must assume that the evidence was sufficient to support the decision reached. See Atwood v. Owens, 142 N.H. 396, 396 (1997). Accordingly, we review the trial court's decision for errors of law only, see id. at 397.

Based on the record before us, we find no error in the trial court's ruling that the documents sought were not subject to disclosure under the Right to Know Law. While the petitioners also argue that the trial court should have taken other action, such as reviewing the documents in camera before ruling, they have failed to demonstrate that these issues were raised before the trial court. Accordingly, we decline to consider them on appeal. See State v. Blackmer, 149 N.H. 47, 48 (2003); Sup. Ct. R. 16(3)(b); Town of Nottingham v. [2] Newman, 147 N.H. 131, 137(2001) (rules regarding preservation of issues on appeal not relaxed for pro se litigants).

The petitioners also argue that the documents should be released under RSA 275:56, "Access to Personnel Files." The trial court ruled that RSA 275:56 did not apply to State employees. Because we are unable to determine on the record before us the nature of the documents requested, we decline to address this issue of statutory interpretation. See Bean v. Red Oak Prop. Mgmt., 151 N.H. at 250.


Broderick, C.J., and Dalianis, Duggan, Galway and Hicks, JJ., concurred.

Eileen Fox,