Woman confirmed to lead top N.H. court
CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Linda Dalianis became the first female to head the state’s highest court with her confirmation yesterday by the Executive Council as chief justice.
Dalianis joined the state’s Supreme Court as its first female justice in 2000 and before that was a superior court judge for 20 years.
She said through a spokeswoman that she was grateful to Governor John Lynch and the council.
“Over her 30 years on the bench, Justice Dalianis has distinguished herself as a thoughtful jurist who possesses a deep commitment to justice and keen intellect,’’ the governor, who nominated her, said.
The five-member council also confirmed Lynch’s nomination of Superior Court Chief Justice Robert Lynn to fill the vacancy on the state Supreme Court left by the retirement of former Chief Justice John Broderick.
Lynn was appointed to the superior court bench in 1992, and has headed that court since 2004.
Both justices are expected to be sworn in next week, Judicial Branch spokeswoman Laura Kiernan said.
While Dalianis holds a New Hampshire first, she has plenty of company nationwide. Women head the highest courts of 19 other states.
In New England, three states have female chief justices. Dalianis joins Maine Chief Justice Leigh Ingalls Saufley and Connecticut Chief Justice Chase Rogers.
Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall left office Tuesday.
In New Hampshire, Dalianis has championed passage of a Supreme Court rule that allows graduates of the Daniel Webster Scholars program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law to bypass the bar exam if they complete a rigorous program of additional classes and hands-on casework.
It is the only program of its kind in the country that substitutes practical experience for a bar exam requirement.
“Courts are very conservative, reactive institutions,’’ Dalianis said earlier this year, of her work on the honors program. “Anything new is generally regarded with skepticism, if not downright suspicion. . . . I was the one with the most tenacity and, by virtue of appointment to this court, sufficient clout to keep the thing moving.’’
Dalianis graduated from Northeastern University in 1970 and the Suffolk University School of Law in 1974.