CONCORD, N.H. – One of New Hampshire’s busiest courts will close its clerk’s office early every afternoon to cope with case backlogs and staff shortages.

The Merrimack Superior Court in Concord will lock its clerk’s office doors each day at 1 p.m. beginning Aug. 2. Court officials say the office is so short-staffed that orders issued in more than 350 cases have not been sent out and more than 500 files contain mail that has yet to be filed.

Superior Court Chief Justice Robert Lynn said he may assemble a “swat team” from other courts to help Merrimack dig out from the pile of files.

“It’s a very troubling situation,” Lynn said Thursday. “This is not a step we took lightly. “

Three of nine clerk positions at the court are unfilled due to budget cuts. Lynn said the longer litigants have to wait for court orders or hearings, the more they call or visit the clerk’s office to complain or seek answers. “The more calls they get puts them farther behind.”

Merrimack Superior Court has 2,400 civil and criminal cases pending.