Gangi v. Groff, Doc. No. 218-1997-E-120 (Rockingham Super. Ct., December 23, 1997) (Broderick, J.)

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Rockingham, ss. Superior Court

Donna Lee Gangi


William Groff and John Safford

Docket No. 97-E-120


After a hearing on November 24, 1997, and reviewing the parties' affidavits, concerning the Petition to Access Public Records, the Court makes the following findings and rulings.

The petitioner, pro se, requested the following documents from John Safford, Clerk of the Hillsborough County Superior Court, northern district (Hillsborough North):

(1) the daily court docket entries of Hillsborough North for 1995 and 1996;
(2) the daily sign-in sheets for cases filed in Hillsborough North in 1995 and 1996;
(3) biographical and other information pertaining to Honorable James J. Barry, Jr., including his financial statements, oath of office and all cases over which he presided in 1995 and 1996;
(4) the number of cases to which Judge Barry was assigned in 1995 and 1996; and
(5) the list of cases to which Judge Barry was assigned in which Attorney Donald A. Kennedy was counsel of record during 1995 and 1996.

Court records are open to public inspection "absent some overriding consideration or special circumstance." Petition of Keene Sentinel, 136 N.H. 121, 126 (1992); N.H. CONST. pt. I, art. 8. Court records are defined as "those things which are filed in court in connection with a pending case." Petition of Keene Sentinel, 136 N.H. at 127. The public, however, is not entitled to have court personnel compile information gathered from [2] numerous documents if a list of this information does not already exist. Brent v. Paquette, 132 N.H. 415, 426 (1989) (decided under RSA chapter 91-A, Right to Know law).

The 1995 and 1996 daily court docket entries and daily sign-in sheets of Hillsborough North were kept for a period of time, then destroyed in the normal course of court business. Further, they do not otherwise constitute court records because they were not filed in connection with a pending case. See Petition of Keene Sentinel, 136 N.H. at 127.

In addition, a list of cases over which Judge Barry presided, to which he was assigned, and in which Attorney Donald Kennedy was counsel of record does not exist. The petitioner is not entitled to compel court personnel to compile this information for her. Cf. Brent, 132 N.H. at 426. However, absent a showing of an overriding consideration or special circumstance, see Petition of Keene Sentinel, 136 N.H. at 126, the petitioner is entitled to access the pleadings and documents of the cases filed with Hillsborough North in 1995 and 1996 consistent with the procedures required under Supreme Court Administrative Order 92-8.

Furthermore, the biographical information and data pertaining to Judge Barry sought by the petitioner is not held by the respondents. Much of this information, however, is available through a variety of publications. See, e.g., RSA 491:2 (1997) (disability and retirement); RSA 491-A:1 (1997) (salary); RSA 493:3 (1997) (record of birth); Sup. Ct. R. 38, canon 6 [3] (compensation beyond judicial salary).

Accordingly, the petitioner's petition to access the information requested from the respondents is DENIED. The parties' pending motions are, therefore, MOOT.

December  23 , 1997    /s/   

John T. Broderick, Jr

Associate Justice