Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Speaker of the House just appointed the House members of the Joint Judicial Retention Committee; those members are:

Rep. Conquest of Newbury
Rep. Rachelson of Burlington
Rep. Troiano of Stannard
Rep. Viens of Newport City

Now the committee can organize and begin the process of interviewing ten superior judges as well as the four supreme court justices that are seeking retention. Every six years the committee is stressed with such a large number of judges. As many of you may know, the position or seat that a judge occupies has a six year term. The individual judge does not. In the past I can recall a number of times that a judge was still in the confirmation process and was in the retention process at the same time.

As the committee posts its scheduled times to interview the judges and justices and when the public hearings will be held I will post that here and on the VBA website so any of you who wish to be heard will know when and where to appear. Usually, these hearings are held around 5 PM with the public hearings beginning at 7 PM.

We are continuing to work on a bill from last year (H.206) dealing with regulation of notaries public. Last session we identified a number of issues with the bill and it appears the Secretary of State will be proposing a similar if not identical bill this year. I will keep you informed as this moves along. It may require effort on the part of each of us to get this right.

Have a nice weekend and, as always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday January 17, 2017

Last Friday the Senate named its members of two committees of interest to the VBA. The first, the Joint Committee on Judicial Retention will contain these four senators:
Senator Nitka
Senator Flory
Senator Benning
Senator Sirotkin
The House has not yet appointed its four members.

The Senate also appointed its members to the Legislative Committee on Judicial Rules; the members will be:
Senator Sears
Senator Balint
Senator Benning
Senator Clarkson
Again, we are still waiting the House appointments.

I'll report as soon as I have other news or updates to share. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Senate named its committees last Friday and they have begun working this week. I will list the membership of both the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations Committees as I did with House committees last week. 
The Judiciary committee has exactly the same members as last session:
Sen. Sears, Chair
Sen. Benning, Vice-Chair
Sen. White
Sen. Nitka
Sen. Ashe

The Appropriations Committee, a seven member committee has these members:
Sen. Kitchel, Chair
Sen. Nitka, Vice-Chair
Sen. Sears
Sen. Starr
Sen. McCormack
Sen. Ashe
Sen. Westman

It’s important to note that three of five judiciary committee members also serve on the money committee. They are very knowledgeable of the funding needs of the judiciary as well as civil justice providers such as Vermont Legal Aid.

Back on the House side things got started quickly in the Judiciary Committee as the Tuesday morning calendar opened with a presentation by the five Supreme Court Justices on the judicial branch and “results abased accountability”. All five spoke to the committee along with Court Administrator Pat Gabel and Chief Superior Judge Brian Grearson. Their handouts to the committee can be found here:

The VBA made its presentation in the afternoon with Teri Corsones and I addressing the committee about our association, its mission and its many accomplishments in advancing access to justice for all Vermonters.

Many bills have already been introduced and many more are to come. The VBA has an interest in a number of them of course and I will be circulating those to Section Chairs for distribution and discussion on our list serves.

The Judicial Retention process will soon begin when the Speaker of the House and the Committee on Committees in the Senate each name for members of the joint committee. This year, as happens every six years, all members of the Supreme Court stand for retention. Of course Justice Dooley is not up for retention having chosen to retire on March 31st. But there are also 10 superior judges who want to continue in office. They are:
Hon. Alison Arms
Hon. Robert Bent
Hon. Thomas Carlson
Hon. Cortland Corsones
Hon. Thomas Devine
Hon. Theresa DiMauro
Hon. Michael Kainen
Hon. Mary Morrissey
Hon. Gregory Rainville
Hon. Kirstin Schoonover

This will be a busy year for the committee members who, in addition to their standing  committee, will have to interview and conduct public hearings on these fourteen judges.

I’ll end this update here but once again ask that if any of you have questions about bills or legislative process and/or want to discuss any issue please let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The 2017-2018 legislative session is underway. In an unusual move newly elected Speaker Mitzi Johnson announced house committee assignments today in what was in years past mostly a day of ceremony and formalities. Perhaps this early start previews an early adjournment. I am reminded that during his campaign governor elect Scott called for a three month session. That’s no doubt out of reach but an early start to committee work could shorten the usual mid May adjournment.

The two committees of jurisdiction of most import to the VBA are Judiciary and Appropriations, as the latter controls budgeting for the judicial branch and for Vermont Legal Aid, two entities the VBA has traditionally worked to support.
Here is the membership of both:

Rep.  Maxine Grad, Chair
Rep.  Charles Conquest, Vice Chair
Rep.  Thomas Burditt, Ranking Member
Rep.  Gary Viens

Rep.  Catherine Toll, Chair
Rep.  Peter J. Fagan, Vice Chair
Rep.  Kathleen C. Keenan, Ranking Member
Rep.  Maureen Dakin
Rep.  Martha Feltus
Rep.  Robert Helm
             Rep.  Bernard Juskiewicz
Rep.  Diane Lanpher
             Rep.  Matthew Trieber
             Rep.  David Yacovone

This is also the first time that a VBA Board member, retired Superior Judge Ben Joseph, is a member of the House. He will serve on the Education Committee. There are a number of lawyers in the general assembly. Here’s a list which I hope is complete:
In the House Ben Joseph, Carol Ode, Sue Buckholz, Janssen Willhoit, Maxine Grad, Martin LaLonde, Sandy Haas, Janet Ancel and, in the Senate Peg Flory, Joe Benning, and Michael Sirotkin.
I’ll try my best to keep up with daily (well almost daily) reporting to you as the session moves forward. For a complete list of committee assignments follow this link: and click on Committees.
Thanks for reading.