Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We are still waiting for the Senate to select its members of the Judicial Nominating Board but the Governor has appointed his two choices. They are Kathy Pellett and Joseph Watson. They join house members Tim Jerman, Bill Lippert and Joe Acinapura. You have already chosen Peg Flory, John Kellner and Water Judge as the bar’s representatives.
Last night’s judicial retention hearing was probably the most difficult one I have sat through since 1987. The committee decided to put off the joint assembly vote until Wednesday, March 30th from next Thursday, the 24th. They did so because, although last night was to be the meeting at which votes on retention were to be taken, they did not vote on all the judges. They withheld decision on Judges Keller, Kupersmith, and Levitt; they will reconvene Thursday at 4:30. They did however unanimously approve the retention of everyone else, three with one abstention in each vote. Here are the votes in summary form:
Justices Burgess, Johnson, Reiber, and Skoglund; 8-0
Justice Dooley: 7-0-1
Judges Corsones, Devine, DiMauro, Rainville, Wesley: 8-0
Judges Bent and Eaton: 7-0-1
The committee did not get to discuss Judges Kupersmith or Levitt last night instead spending all its time on Judge Keller. The committee seems badly divided on his retention. His detractors are many, but he also has a number of supporters, many who are members of the bar. There really was no criticism of his judicial knowledge, preparedness, scholarship, etc. All the criticism goes to his demeanor. He is described as rude and as a “bully” in the courtroom. Some of the committee members also complained of his conduct before their committee in each of his two appearances there. One senator said he was troubled that the judge “misrepresented” the Judicial Conduct Board reprimand. For another take on this, check today’s Burlington Free Press as there was a reporter present.
I expect the vote will be taken Thursday. I will be out of the building at our Mid Year Meeting in Burlington. I can report the vote when I learn it but won’t be able to report more fully than that.

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