AN ADDRESS for the removal of Philip Cross, marital master in the judicial branch family division in the Derry District Court, from his said office.

SPONSORS: Rep. Itse, Rock 9; Rep. Ingbretson, Graf 5; Rep. Baldasaro, Rock 3; Rep. Hinkle, Hills 19; Rep. Seidel, Hills 20

COMMITTEE: Joint Legislative Committee on Address


This address seeks the removal by address of Philip Cross, marital master in the judicial branch family division in the Derry District Court, from his said office.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.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

AN ADDRESS for the removal of Philip Cross, marital master in the judicial branch family division in the Derry District Court, from his said office.

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

The House of Representatives and Senate in General Court convened, under Part 2, Article 73 of the New Hampshire Constitution, satisfied that the public good requires that Philip Cross, Marital Master, should no longer hold and retain his judicial office and that there is reasonable cause for his removal, respectfully address and request the governor, with the consent of the council, to remove said Marital Master Philip Cross from office. 

The cause for removal of the said Philip Cross is that he exceeded his authority and abused his discretion, resulting in the failure to afford justice to the parties appearing before him, as exemplified fully and substantially as follows:

1. He recommended an order holding a father in criminal contempt following a hearing that had been noticed as a civil contempt hearing, which order resulted in that father, who was representing himself and was the primary custodian of the parties’ minor child, to be incarcerated for 10 weeks, in contravention of his right not to be deprived of liberty but by the judgment of his peers, as guaranteed by Part 1, Article 15 of the New Hampshire Constitution.

2. He:

(a) Recommended a child support order in the absence of submission of the affidavits and child support guidelines worksheets necessary to its lawful determination under RSA 458-C, thereby basing said recommendation neither upon the guidelines set forth in RSA 458-C:4 nor upon some other basis supported by written findings pursuant to RSA 458-C:5;

(b) Recommended in said proposed order that child support be paid by the father, even though the father had primary physical custody of the parties’ minor child and the mother’s income was at least as great as that of the father;

(c) Recommended an order denying a motion to reconsider that support order when presented with evidence of these defects; and

(d) Subsequently recommended an order requiring the sale of the father's home in order to pay the arrearage in the child support determined on the basis of the support order so generated, resulting in the father and the minor child becoming homeless.

3. He:

(a) Refused to allow competent testimony or the admission into evidence of documentation critical to the determination of the medical needs of a minor child;

(b) Willfully misrepresented such of the medical needs of the minor child as were known to him;

(c) Recommended an order transferring parental medical decision-making authority respecting said minor child in the absence of any evidence of changed circumstances so justifying; and

(d) Held the father in contempt of court for seeking appropriate emergency medical attention for said minor child in circumstances in which he knew or should have known the father had no reasonable alternative.

4. Rather than recommend a new order to replace it, he instead refused to enforce an existing custody order that had been temporarily suspended, thereby allowing the mother to disregard the custodial rights of the father thereunder, and did not act upon a motion brought by the father against the mother to enforce his custodial rights under said existing order.

5. Following entry of an order precluding a father from taking his minor child out of school early and a subsequent order requiring the parties’ minor child to undergo counseling, he recommended an order holding the father in contempt for violating the second order in circumstances in which his doing so would have caused him to violate the first order.

6. He followed a pattern, in an ongoing case before him, of recommending orders having the effect of gradually eroding one parent’s custodial rights without proper pleadings having been filed by the other parent, without proper notice having been given, without hearings having been held, and without changed circumstances having arisen.

7. He recommended an order relating to parenting issues following a hearing that had been noticed as one to consider financial issues, but which on the day of the hearing, over the objection of one parent, had been changed to parenting issues raised at the hearing by the other parent, thereby depriving the objecting parent of adequate opportunity to prepare and of advance disclosure of the identity and expected testimony of the expert witnesses brought and called to testify by the other parent, which order, in addition to its adverse consequences to the objecting parent, terminated the physical custodial rights of the objecting parent’s parents, who, notwithstanding that they were formal parties, had not been afforded the opportunity to testify, to present witnesses, or to cross-examine opposing witnesses at the hearing.

8. He recommended an order, without opportunity for objection or hearing, approving payment of guardian ad litem fees of $44,000 that encompassed activities beyond the scope of the guardian’s legitimate duties and responsibilities and in disregard of the retainer agreement that had limited fees to $4,000.

9. In summary, it is evident to the general court that Marital Master Philip Cross has established a pattern of retaliatory, arbitrary, capricious and/or prejudiced adjudication; disregard of governing law and rules; disregard of the evidentiary record; and recommendation of conflicting orders, and orders disregarding the best interests, safety, and health of minor children of the parties appearing before him.