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Hassan names 11-member panel to recommend new N.H. judges

An 11-person panel will help Gov. Maggie Hassan pick three new circuit court judges and other judicial nominees.

Hassan, a Democrat, issued an executive order yesterday re-establishing the Judicial Selection Commission, which evaluates and recommends potential state judges.

Such a commission was first created by then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen in 2000. It was dropped by Craig Benson but resurrected in 2005 by governor John Lynch, who left office in January.

“Our commission will bring together individuals with a deep understanding of New Hampshire’s system of justice in order to recommend highly qualified candidates to fill judicial vacancies,” Hassan said in a statement.

It will be co-chaired by two attorneys, Emily Rice of the Bernstein Shur law firm and James Rosenberg of the Shaheen & Gordon firm. Other members include Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Manchester police Chief David Mara and Arthur Nichols, president and chief executive officer of Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene.

The panel’s first task, according to Hassan’s office, will be to find successors for three circuit court judges who are preparing to retire: Richard Hampe in Concord, Clifford Kinghorn in Merrimack and Christina O’Neill in Laconia.

Anyone nominated by Hassan for those jobs would then require confirmation by the five-member Executive Council.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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