Let us now praise John Broderick and Fred Hall
At the end of October, New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick retired from that position after serving since 1995, when he was appointed an associate justice by then-Gov. Stephen Merrill. In 2004, he was appointed chief justice by Gov. Craig Benson.Broderick, 63, had a long career in private law practice prior to appointment to the bench, having been Merrill's law partner in a smaller law firm and, prior to that, at Devine Millimet & Branch.Notable in his tenure as chief justice was his constant advocacy for representation for those who could not afford attorneys. He also often pointed out the trend in the courts for litigants to be represented by themselves and the strain that put on the court system, the rules, and justice in general. Due to the high cost of legal representation, that trend needs to be addressed, and Broderick worked hard to address it, even if he could not solve it.Recently, as the state budget situation has reduced funding to the court system, Broderick used his political skills, gained as an active official in the state Democratic Party, to lobby the Legislature and keep as much funding with the courts as possible.Notwithstanding those efforts, budget cuts have resulted in the closing of courts, reduced the number of civil trials and lengthened the time for completion of legal matters, obviously frustrating to all of those served by the legal system and to the chief justice.Upon his receipt of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Business and Industry Association on Oct. 27, Broderick eloquently stressed the need for the state to support the courts and the vital position the courts have in our governmental system, if American democracy is to survive as designed.Perhaps Broderick's most lasting contribution will have been his calming of the waters surrounding the Supreme Court and the judiciary in general that preceded his elevation. Those with a good memory of recent New Hampshire history will remember the controversy surrounding the Claremont lawsuit decisions as well as the impeachment trial of Broderick's predecessor, Chief Justice David Brock.Whatever he does next, New Hampshire should pause to say "thank you" to John Broderick for his service, which indeed was distinguished.Governor Lynch, at this writing, had not named a new chief justice. If that person comes from the four remaining members of the court, there will be a Supreme Court seat open. Of course, the governor could appoint the chief justice from outside the court, but that is less likely than the prospect of his appointing one of the sitting justices.*****Speaking of distinguished New Hampshire lawyers, Fred W. Hall Jr. of Rochester, a longtime member of the New Hampshire Bar, recently celebrated his 90th birthday at a small gathering. Hall was joined by former Gov. Walter Peterson, Kimon Zachos, David Nixon and others to celebrate his milestone.Hall recounted highlights of his legal career, which was spent at the law firm of Cooper, Hall and Walker in Rochester.Hall served one term on the Executive Council in the early 1960s under then-Gov. John W. King (himself later a New Hampshire chief justice). Later, he was appointed to the board of trustees of the University of New Hampshire, his alma mater, of which he was elected chair and served with distinction during the turbulent late 1960s, where this writer, then the student observer to the board, met him.Perhaps most important to Hall, apart from his family, was his service in World War II. He was serving four years, assigned to the First U.S. Infantry Division as an officer leading the first wave to invade Normandy on D-Day.Hall indicated that he has considered every day since D-Day as a "period of grace" due to the number of others who lost their lives during the battle he survived.Scores of clients, neighbors, friends, attorneys and students of my generation at the University of New Hampshire owe Fred W. Hall, Jr., a debt of gratitude and, for me, at least, as he was one of the first attorneys I ever got to know, thanks for being such a good role model for a young (and increasingly not so young) attorney over the years.Brad Cook is a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green and heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.