Rep. Kevin Avard is vying for one of three seats in a race with five candidates in Nashua Ward 1 (Hillsborough 28). He’s clearly a preferred candidate for Cornerstone in the district, with a 100 percent score on Cornerstone’s Families First Scorecard.
Rep. Kevin Avard said he was proudest of his role in passing CACR 26, which, if approved by the People this November, would amend Part 2, Article 73-a in the N.H. Constitution and restore some of the Legislature’s authority to approve administrative rules in the Judicial Branch. Back in 1978, Article 73-a was added and gave full autonomy to the courts to pass administrative rules that have “the force and effect of law.” This change led to rules that have become law without representation, Rep. Avard said.
Most notably, Judicial Branch Rule 1.2 allows the courts to waive all rules. This rule has been used in the family courts to waive the rules of evidence and allow hearsay evidence to be used against parents, Rep. Avard said. And Rule 1.9 gives the court discretion to deny appeals to the Supreme Court, despite the fact that the N.H. Constitution protects that right. When the same government body that interprets the N.H. Constitution is allowed to waive the constitution by passing a rule, it makes the body untouchable, Rep. Avard said. The constitutional amendment CACR 26 will make the Judicial Branch accountable to the people again by allowing the Legislature to pass laws that nullify these court rules, he said. Avard said if the amendment passes, he will file bills to do just that.
As a member of the recently revived Redress of Grievances Committee, Rep. Avard said he personally witnessed citizens who were comforted by finally having a place to turn to seek justice for the first time in years. One of his main priorities for the coming session will be maintaining the Redress of Grievances Committee, he said, but he will also introduce bills from ideas generated by people who testified in front of the committee this past session.
Among the issues still needing to be addressed, Rep. Avard said parents are currently not allowed to see the evidence against them when a Guardian Ad Litem is trying to keep their children away from them. The evidence is kept in a sealed envelope and given to the judge, and parents are not allowed to see it, despite the constitutional requirements that citizens have a right to face their accuser and see the evidence against them. Avard intends to file a bill to fix this problem, so parents’ constitutional rights will be restored. Additionally, Avard said he intends to introduce impeachment proceedings against the judges who have done things like this and work on a bill to remove immunity for judicial officials who misrepresent the truth, whether intentional or unintentional.