Concord's Chuck Temple could follow his father as a superior court judge
Chuck Temple never set out to follow in his father’s professional footsteps. And in many respects, he hasn’t – at least, not exactly. Yet here the 53-year-old Concord attorney and law professor finds himself, one of three men nominated to become New Hampshire superior court judges, more than two decades after his forebear retired from the same role.
“My path in the legal career was much different than his,” said Temple, who was nominated last week by Gov. Maggie Hassan. “Although, ironically, it’s coming around to the same final job, if I’m confirmed by the Executive Council.”
Temple’s legal aspirations surfaced in college, at the University of New Hampshire, where he studied history. As the son of a lawyer turned judge, the Dover native had been exposed to the law at an early age, but it wasn’t until he ensconced himself in undergraduate coursework on political science and U.S. history that he began to view it as a potential career.
He graduated in 1982 and entered the Franklin Pierce Law Center (now UNH School of Law) later that year. It was a rapid transition in retrospect, Temple said, one that he now advises some of his pupils at UNH against.
“Things were different then,” he said. “I encourage students now who are wondering, ‘Should I work a few years or come to the law school?’ I say go work a few years, get some real life experience.”
Temple earned his law degree in 1985 and went into private practice at Perkins, Upshall and Cooper in Concord. Three years later, he became a partner at the firm. In his 18 years with the firm, Temple came in contact with nearly every component of trial law.
“I did real estate work, probate work, business work,” Temple said. “But the primary focus was on the civil and criminal litigation.”
He especially valued his work as a defense attorney in criminal cases.
“I just like the trial atmosphere,” Temple said. “I really enjoy the people in the criminal bar, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, probation people. . . . Even though it’s quite often an adversarial setting, it’s a setting that, in this state, has a lot of civility.”
Temple began teaching part time at the UNH law school in 1994. Nine years later, he became a full-time professor and the director of the school’s Criminal Practice Clinic, a residency-like program in which students represent actual clients and cases before the state’s circuit and superior courts. Temple has pushed for more casework in superior court, where students can get jury trial experience.
Temple has also been involved in the community, as a member of several legal groups and local organizations, including Concord American Little League, Groundwork Concord, the board of the Centennial Senior Center and the church council for Grace Capital Church. Serving the community outside the courtroom is important, Temple said.
“I think you have an obligation to do that as a lawyer,” he said. “Same with my involvement with the (New Hampshire) Bar Association and others. You do a real disservice if you don’t get involved in the community.”
He added: “Lawyers have an obligation to public service, across the board.”
If confirmed next month by the Executive Council, Temple would be assigned to one of the state’s 11 superior courts. It would be a significant move, he said, and part of a natural progression of sorts.
“I just think it’s part and parcel to my career path at this point,” Temple said. “I’ve been in private practice. I’ve been in an educational-public-defense type practice. And I think if I’m confirmed, what I’m really looking forward to is serving the public trust in a completely different way, in a very important way.”
Temple said he and his father, who died a few years ago, never discussed the possibility of him becoming a judge at length.
“He wasn’t the type that pushed you in a certain direction,” he said.
Regardless of where he may be assigned, Temple intends to remain in Concord, where he lives with his wife. The couple has three grown children and, as of recently, three small grandchildren – their oldest son is a new father of triplets.
“I love living here,” Temple said. “You have your immediate family, but then you develop a community of close friends who become like family. I love that feeling of community.”
Though the new position would take him away from his current one at the law school, Temple said he has no plans of cutting loose from the institution.
“I will not leave this place, ever,” he said. “I will always stay involved in some capacity.”
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)