Friday, February 17, 2017

Retention Hearing Thursday February 16, 2017

These are Teri Corsones' notes from last night's retention hearing on the last five superior judges. Remember that the pubilc hearing is coming up on Thursday February 23rd at 7PM in room 11 of the statehouse. 

Judge Theresa DiMauro
24 years on the bench; 4th retention cycle. Judge DiMauro has had a variety of assignments since the last retention cycle, including Windsor Civil, Rutland Criminal, Washington Civil, Windham Criminal and currently a DUI Treatment Court. Many of the assignments were impacted by unusual emergency circumstances which required her to cover other courts in addition to her regular assignment. The emergencies were also during the time of the severe judge shortage, which led to many case management challenges. Filling the judicial vacancies has helped. One committee member commented she had seen Judge DiMauro on the bench doing arraignments, during a Legislators’ Day, and commended Judge DiMauro for her patience with defendants. Another encouraged her to consider an “open door” approach to  soliciting feedback from attorneys. Judge DiMauro has found the experience of covering DUI Treatment Court to be a gratifying one.
Judge Michael Kainen
A little over one year on the bench.  Currently in Caledonia, and was in Windham Civil before that. He did not have civil experience in the past, and is enjoying learning the docket. He also covers contested divorce cases. He took on a number of cases in the beginning, not realizing the amount of time needed to write lengthy opinions. He is learning the benefits of “findings days”, and  case management in general. He is now making mre decisions fro the bench. He is also gaining experience regarding pro se litigants.
Judge Mary Morrissey
Also on the bench a little over a year. Her background was criminal and some juvenile. She’s been assigned to the family docket primarily, in Chittenden and in Franklin. She is also covering TPR cases. As has been noted for a number of the “new judges”, there is a learning curve regarding case management. She appreciates the guidance that more veteran judges are always willing to give. She favors alimony guidelines.
Judge Gregory Rainville
11 years on the bench; second retention cycle. He was surprised at a number of the survey responses, especially compared to the survey responses he received in conjunction with his first retention. He thinks it would be helpful to have more regular opportunities for feedback, and suggested brief annual surveys, submitted anonymously. He is taking action to respond to the survey responses. He also urges the Legislature to consider increasing the number of law clerks.  The law clerk he works with also works with two other judges. He acknowledged that there are issues that he is working to address, including sentencing philosophies and balancing equities with black letter law.
Judge Kirstin Schoonover
Also on the bench a little over a year. She worked initially in the Family Division in the Washington Unit, and is now in the Chittenden Unit, working in the domestic and juvenile dockets.  She noted a higher level of resources available in the Chittenden Unit.   Her background was working for Legal Aid. She addressed various survey comments that she attributes to several highly contentious cases she had in the Washington Unit. She also acknowledged the learning curve involved in effective case management.

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