Apr 25, 2016 10:22 AM

NH judges, lawyers, draft rules to not jail poor who owe fines

CONCORD (AP) - Judges and lawyers for the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union have reached an agreement to halt the jailing of indigents who fail to pay fines until a lawyer can be appointed for them.

A top administrative judge says the proposed rule should ensure that only flagrant violators might wind up behind bars, even if they have lawyers. The proposal comes seven months after civil liberties union lawyers released results of a yearlong analysis that showed that scores of defendants who owed fines for minor offenses were jailed when they couldn't afford to pay, and without counsel being appointed.

The Judicial Branch's Advisory Committee on Rules will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule changes on June 3, then make recommendations to the state Supreme Court.

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