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Redress of grievances committee could continue as private company

  • The House Redress of Grievances Committee listens as Wendy Boone speaks during a petition hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>

    The House Redress of Grievances Committee listens as Wendy Boone speaks during a petition hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

    (Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)
    Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • The House Redress of Grievances Committee listens as Wendy Boone speaks during a petition hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>

    The House Redress of Grievances Committee listens as Wendy Boone speaks during a petition hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

    (Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)
    Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Committee Chairman Representative Paul Ingbretson conducts business during a House Redress of Grievances Committee hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>

    Committee Chairman Representative Paul Ingbretson conducts business during a House Redress of Grievances Committee hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

    (Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)
    Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Committee Chairman Representative Paul Ingbretson conducts business during a House Redress of Grievances Committee hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>

    Committee Chairman Representative Paul Ingbretson conducts business during a House Redress of Grievances Committee hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

    (Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)
    Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • The House Redress of Grievances Committee listens as Wendy Boone speaks during a petition hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>
  • The House Redress of Grievances Committee listens as Wendy Boone speaks during a petition hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>
  • Committee Chairman Representative Paul Ingbretson conducts business during a House Redress of Grievances Committee hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>
  • Committee Chairman Representative Paul Ingbretson conducts business during a House Redress of Grievances Committee hearing in the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, April 12, 2012.<br/><br/>(Brad Vest/Monitor Staff)<br/>

A week after lawmakers abolished the Redress of Grievances Committee, a former House member has revived it as a private business dedicated to reigning in unfair judges and government officials.

Kevin Avard, a Nashua Republican who served on the redress committee before losing his re-election bid last year, created the Center for Redress of Grievances in late November. He is holding his first organizational meeting today at the library in Hooksett from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

According to registration papers filed with the secretary of state’s office, the center will investigate wrongdoing by government officials and try to rectify it with legislation or publicity. Avard has two talk shows on a Nashua cable access station and plans to pitch stories about government misdeeds to other media outlets.

The center won’t have the subpoena power the House committee did, although the committee never issued a subpoena and almost never persuaded accused parties to testity before it.

But Avard said his goal remains the same.

He hopes to recruit a group of former and current lawmakers and attorneys to hear citizens’ complaints against the state’s courts and state agencies. When appropriate, the center will ask a sitting lawmaker to introduce legislation remedying alleged problems.

The center, which won’t charge for the work, will also help aggrieved citizens file lawsuits when necessary, Avard said.

“My heart goes out to the people who feel they have lost their faith in government,” Avard said this week. “I want to restore that faith and this is a way of helping out. This is for the people falling through the cracks.”

The House Redress of Grievances Committee had been dormant for a century when former House speaker Bill O’Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican, resurrected it in 2011.

It was criticized by Democrats – and some Republicans – as nothing more than a sympathetic sounding board for fathers upset with divorce and custody rulings.

Most of the Democrats assigned to it never attended a single meeting.

Of the 28 petitions the committee heard in two years, it deemed 20 of them founded. But that was only because the committee’s Republicans outnumbered the few Democratic members who attended.

Avard was among the committee’s most enthusiastic members. Among the committee’s recommendations were impeachment investigations against several judges for their decisions in family law cases. Members most often made those recommendations after hearing only from one party in the dispute and without doing their own investigation of court records, even publicly available ones.

In January, the Democratic-led House abolished the committee. But Rep. George Lambert, a Litchfield Republican who served on redress last session, is determined to see its work continue.

He has introduced legislation this year based on what he heard from petitioners last session, he said. One bill asks that guardian ad litems be denied immunity when they make custody recommendations with malicious intent.

Another of Lambert’s committee-inspired bills would prohibit authorities from taking a person’s firearms as a condition of bail.

Lambert said this week that he’s willing to work with Avard’s group and introduce legislation for it.

“My personal belief is the Legislature, in getting rid of the committee, did the citizens of this state a tremendous disservice,” Lambert said. “Our Constitution is very clear that the intent of the Legislature is to hear grievances.”

It’s true that the state Constitution says “the Legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances,” but not all lawmakers read that as literally as Avard and Lambert.

House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, a Penacook Democrat, said that language was adopted in 1784 – when the Legislature served as a court. It granted divorces, for example.

Now that the state government has expanded, citizens can more effectively pursue complaints and grievances through the courts and state agencies. Shurtleff said the House will receive any complaints brought forward by a citizen or lawmaker and refer it to the proper House committee when warranted.

“But most of these (petitions from the redress committee) were court cases that had already been adjudicated,” he said. “That is the problem we had with redress. They looked to the Legislature to give (petitioners) a remedy that really wasn’t appropriate for us to deal with.”

(For more information about the new Center for Redress of Grievances, contact Kevin Avard at centerforredress
ofgrievances@gmail.com.
Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323, atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)

Justice should not be politicized. If people have legitimate complaints, they should be heard. While the Redress of Grievances Committee was not perfect, most petitions were legitimate, and most committee members did a good job of trying to get justice for those who were wronged by government agencies and/or the family courts. Abuse by those entrusted to serve the people's interests should not be tolerated.

This was a great meeting. I volunteered to work with anybody wanting to ever file criminal charges against any and all public servants so-called of serving other than who they are supposed to be working for but who "refrain" under an RSA Ch. 643:1 "Official Oppression" http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXII/643/643-1.htm of to either: citizens arrest the thieves, call in for back-up for the local C.O.P. to arrest to booking, or do the RSA Chapter 594:14 Summons. http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LIX/594/594-14.htm -- Joe , http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2002/0209/marti098.htm Redress of grievances committee

You've heard of Bible Thumpers, now we have Constitution Thumpers. This was a bad idea two years ago and it's even more ridiculous now. I think it was mostly another way of Bill O'Brien to flex his political muscles. Just let it go people, let it go.

I don't understand why all these people that hate government don't get together and buy an island and make their own country. They can have all the guns they want, shoot to kill if anyone comes near them, pay no taxes, home school their kids and never ask for help a natural disaster hits them. Betcha after a while, they set up a police force, pay taxes so they can have roads and schools and COURTS to settle their differences. And beg for help when the disaster hits from the nearest big country, and who would that be?

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