Bill Text: NH HB1236 | 2018 | Regular Session | Introduced

Bill Title: Relative to mental health courts.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 5-2)

Status: (Introduced) 2017-11-07 - To Be Introduced 01/03/2018 and referred to Judiciary [HB1236 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2018-HB1236-Introduced.html










AN ACT relative to mental health courts.


SPONSORS: Rep. Massimilla, Graf. 1; Rep. Irwin, Sull. 6; Rep. Theberge, Coos 3; Rep. Mangipudi, Hills. 35; Rep. Klee, Hills. 30; Rep. Katsakiores, Rock. 6; Rep. Boutin, Graf. 2


COMMITTEE: Judiciary






This bill inserts additional requirements regarding the operation of mental health courts.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.






In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen


AN ACT relative to mental health courts.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


1  New Section; Mental Health Courts.  Amend RSA 490-H by inserting after section 2 the following new section:

490-H:3  Operation and Dissolution of Mental Health Court.  

I.  A superior or circuit court which has established a mental health court pursuant to this chapter shall not eliminate that court unless a committee comprised of the following members is convened and votes by a simple majority to eliminate that court:

(a)  The presiding judge of that court.

(b)  The mental health court manager for that court.

(c)  The law enforcement representative for that court.

(d)  The prosecution representative for that court.

(e)  The defense representative for that court.

II.  A superior or circuit court which has established a mental health court pursuant to this chapter shall:

(a)  Allocate reasonable time on its docket to accommodate mental health court proceedings.

(b)  Not impose limitations on the number of participants in mental health court proceedings.

(c)  Not restrict the mental health court from exploring or implementing alternatives or plea options to allow to address the issues presented by specialized groups such as veterans and persons with co-occurring disorders.

2  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.









AN ACT relative to mental health courts.


FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [    ] Local              [    ] None




Estimated Increase / (Decrease)


FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

FY 2022
















Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [    ] Education            [    ] Highway           [    ] Other








The proposed bill relative to mental courts would:

  • Place restrictions on the elimination of mental health courts;
  • Require reasonable time on the docket be allocated to mental health proceedings;
  • Require limitations not be imposed on the number of participants in the mental health court;
  • Provide that mental health courts not be restricted from exploring or implementing alternatives or plea options to address specialized groups such as veterans or persons with co-occuring disorders.


The Judicial Branch indicates this bill may increase expenditures by an indeterminable amount.  

The Branch states mental health courts do not add to the caseload of the superior or circuit court, but cases selected for mental health court treatment involve more intense time from the judge and more staff time than cases processed in the regular course.  The Branch assumes the obligation not to impose limits on the number of participants in mental health courts has a potential fiscal impact on the Judicail Branch in excess of $10,000.


The Judicial Council states this bill could increase expenditures for defense of the indigent accused by an indeterminate amount.  The Council indicates this bill would not increase the number of people charged with eligible crimes, but would make this sentencing option available to more defendants already in the criminal justice system.  The Public Defender currently staffs the mental health courts around the state.  There currently is no allowance to pay for the additional time spent by attorneys in mental health court.  The Council assumes the Public Defender has some ability to absorb a small increase in caseload and a modest increase in the number of mental health cases would not lead to increased expenditures by the Council to support the Public Defender  Program.  In the event of an evidentiary hearing where the Public Defender has a conflict, contract counsel or assigned counsel would provide specialty court representation at a cost of $75 for contract counsel per case or $60 per hour for assigned counsel.


The Department of Health and Human Services states this bill would not have a fiscal impact on the current operations of the Department.


The New Hampshire Association of Counties states this bill will have no fiscal impact on the counties.


The New Hampshire Municipal Association did not identify any direct impact on local revenues or expenditures.



Judicial Branch, Judicial Council, New Hampshire Association of Counties, New Hampshire Municipal Association, and the Department of Health and Human Services