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Searching 2017-2018 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 4: Judiciary

Chapter 015: JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS AND APPOINTMENTS

  • § 601. Judicial Nominating Board created; composition

    (a) The Judicial Nominating Board is created for the nomination of Supreme Court Justices, Superior judges, magistrates, and the Chair and members of the Public Utility Commission.

    (b) The Board shall consist of 11 members who shall be selected as follows:

    (1) The Governor shall appoint two members who are not attorneys at law.

    (2) The Senate shall elect three of its members, not all of whom shall be members of the same party, and only one of whom may be an attorney at law.

    (3) The House shall elect three of its members, not all of whom shall be members of the same party, and only one of whom may be an attorney at law.

    (4) Attorneys at law admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Vermont, and residing in the State, shall elect three of their number as members of the Board. The Supreme Court shall regulate the manner of their nomination and election.

    (5) The members of the Board shall serve for terms of two years. All appointments or elections shall be between January 1 and February 1 of each odd-numbered year, except to fill a vacancy. A House vacancy that occurs when the General Assembly is adjourned shall be filled by the Speaker of the House and a Senate vacancy that occurs when the General Assembly is adjourned shall be filled by the Senate Committee on Committees. Members shall serve until their successors are elected or appointed. Members shall serve no more than three consecutive terms in any capacity.

    (6) The members shall elect their own chair, who will serve for a term of two years.

    (c) Legislative members of the Board shall be entitled to per diem compensation and reimbursement for expenses in accordance with 2 V.S.A. § 406. Members of the Board who are not otherwise compensated by their employer shall be entitled to per diem compensation and reimbursement for expenses in the same manner as board members are compensated under 32 V.S.A. § 1010. All compensation and reimbursement shall be paid from the legislative appropriation.

    (d) The Judicial Nominating Board shall adopt rules under 3 V.S.A. chapter 25 which shall establish criteria and standards for the nomination of candidates for Justices of the Supreme Court, Superior judges, magistrates, and the Chair and members of the Public Utility Commission based on the attributes identified in subsection 602(d) of this title. The application form shall not be included in the rules and may be developed and periodically revised at the discretion of the Board.

    (e) A quorum of the Board shall consist of eight members.

    (f) The Board is authorized to use the staff and services of appropriate State agencies and departments as necessary to conduct investigations of applicants. The Office of Legislative Council shall assist the Board for the purpose of rulemaking.

    (g) Except as provided in subsection (h) of this section, proceedings of the Board, including the names of candidates considered by the Board and information about any candidate submitted by the Court Administrator or by any other source, shall be confidential.

    (h) The following shall be public:

    (1) operating procedures of the Board;

    (2) standard application forms and any other forms used by the Board, provided they do not contain personal information about a candidate or confidential proceedings;

    (3) all proceedings of the Board prior to the Board's receipt of the first candidate's completed application; and

    (4) at the time the Board sends the names of the candidates to the Governor, the total number of applicants for the vacancy and the total number of candidates sent to the Governor. (Amended 1966, No. 64 (Sp. Sess.), § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1967; 1967, No. 306 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1969, No. 125, § 6; 1971, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1975, No. 204 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1979, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1985, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 25, 1986; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2011, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § E.125.1, eff. March 7, 2012; 2013, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. June 17, 2014; 2015, No. 123 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 23, 2016.)

  • § 602. Duties; justices, judges, magistrates, and the Chair of the Public Utility Commission

    (a)(1) Prior to submitting to the Governor the names of candidates for Justices of the Supreme Court, Superior Court judges, magistrates, and the Chair of the Public Utility Commission, the Judicial Nominating Board shall submit to the Court Administrator a list of all candidates, and he or she shall disclose to the Board information solely about professional disciplinary action taken or pending concerning any candidate.

    (2) From the list of candidates, the Judicial Nominating Board shall select by majority vote, provided that a quorum is present, well-qualified candidates for the position to be filled.

    (b) Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of a Supreme Court Justice, a Superior Court judge, magistrate, or Chair of the Public Utility Commission, or when an incumbent does not declare that he or she will be a candidate to succeed himself or herself, the Board shall submit to the Governor the names of as many persons as it deems well qualified to be appointed to the office.

    (c)(1) A candidate for judge or Justice shall be a Vermont resident and an experienced lawyer who has practiced law in Vermont for a minimum of ten years, with at least five years immediately preceding his or her application to the Board. The Board may make exceptions to the five-year requirement for absences from practice for reasons including family, military, academic, or medical leave.

    (2) A candidate for magistrate shall be a Vermont resident and an experienced lawyer who has practiced law in Vermont for at least five years immediately preceding his or her application to the Board.

    (3) A candidate for Chair of the Public Utility Commission shall not be required to be an attorney; however if the candidate is admitted to practice law in Vermont, the Judicial Nominating Board shall submit the candidate's name to the Court Administrator, and he or she shall disclose to the Board information solely about professional disciplinary action taken or pending concerning the candidate. If a candidate is not admitted to practice law in Vermont, but practices a profession requiring licensure, certification, or other professional regulation by the State, the Judicial Nominating Board shall submit the candidate's name to the State professional regulatory entity and that entity shall disclose to the Board any professional disciplinary action taken or pending concerning the candidate.

    (d) A candidate shall possess the following attributes:

    (1) Integrity. A candidate shall possess a record and reputation for excellent character and integrity.

    (2) Legal knowledge and ability. A candidate shall possess a high degree of knowledge of established legal principles and procedures and have demonstrated a high degree of ability to interpret and apply the law to specific factual situations.

    (3) Judicial temperament. A candidate shall possess an appropriate judicial temperament.

    (4) Impartiality. A candidate shall exhibit an ability to make judicial determinations in a manner free of bias.

    (5) Communication capability. A candidate shall possess demonstrated oral and written capacities, with reasonable accommodations, required by the position.

    (6) Financial integrity. A candidate shall possess demonstrated financial probity.

    (7) Work ethic. A candidate shall demonstrate diligence.

    (8) Administrative capabilities. A candidate shall demonstrate management and organizational skills or experience required by the position.

    (9) Courtroom experience. For Superior Court, a candidate shall have sufficient trial or other comparable experience that ensures knowledge of the Vermont Rules of Evidence and courtroom procedure. For the Environmental Division of the Superior Court, a candidate shall have experience in environmental and zoning law.

    (10) Other. A candidate shall possess other attributes the Board deems relevant as identified through its rules. (Amended 1966, No. 64 (Sp. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 1967; 1967, No. 41, eff. March 16, 1967; 1967, No. 306 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1969, No. 125, § 7; 1971, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1975, No. 204 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 1985, No. 108 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. March 25, 1986; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 33; 2015, No. 123 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 23, 2016.)

  • § 602a. Duties; Public Utility Commission members

    (a) In accordance with 30 V.S.A. § 3, whenever a vacancy occurs for a member position on the Public Utility Commission, the Governor shall submit at least five names of potential nominees to the Judicial Nominating Board for review. The Judicial Nominating Board shall submit to the Governor the names of candidates it deems well qualified. The Judicial Nominating Board shall submit to the Governor a summary of the qualifications and experience of each candidate whose name is submitted to the Governor, together with any further information relevant to the matter. Vacancies for the position of Chair of the Public Utility Commission shall follow the procedure set forth in section 602 of this title.

    (b) A candidate for the position of member of the Public Utility Commission shall not be required to be an attorney; however, if the candidate is admitted to practice law in Vermont, the Judicial Nominating Board shall submit the candidate's name to the Court Administrator, and he or she shall disclose to the Board information solely about professional disciplinary action taken or pending concerning the candidate. If a candidate is not admitted to practice law in Vermont, but practices a profession requiring licensure, certification, or other professional regulation by the State, the Judicial Nominating Board shall submit the candidate's name to the State professional regulatory entity and that entity shall disclose to the Board any professional disciplinary action taken or pending concerning the candidate.

    (c) A candidate shall possess the attributes provided in subsection 602(d) of this title. (Added 2015, No. 123 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 23, 2016.)

  • § 603. Appointment of justices, judges, magistrates, Public Utility Commission Chair, and members

    Whenever the Governor appoints a Supreme Court Justice, a Superior Judge, a magistrate, the Chair of the Public Utility Commission, or a member of the Public Utility Commission, he or she shall select from the list of names of qualified persons submitted by the Judicial Nominating Board pursuant to law. The names of candidates submitted and not selected shall remain confidential. (Amended 1966, No. 64 (Sp. Sess.), § 3, eff. Jan. 1, 1967; 1967, No. 306 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1971, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1973, No. 106, § 4, eff. May 25, 1973; 1975, No. 204 (Adj. Sess.), § 8; 1979, No. 181 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 34.)

  • § 604. Repealed. 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.

  • § 605. Political activity by judges prohibited

    Superior judges shall not make any contribution to or hold any office in a political party or organization or take part in any political campaign. (Amended 1966, No. 64 (Sp. Sess.), § 6, eff. Jan. 1, 1967; 1971, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.) § 5; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 35.)

  • § 606. Repealed. 2011, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § E.125.2.

  • § 607. Joint Committee on Judicial Retention; creation

    (a) There is created the Joint Committee on Judicial Retention composed of four members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House and four members of the Senate appointed by the Committee on Committees of the Senate. The appointments shall be made, if practicable, within seven days of the convening of each biennial session of the General Assembly.

    (b) The Committee shall endeavor to hold its organizational meeting within seven days of its appointment and shall elect a chair from among its membership and adopt rules of procedure consistent with the rules of the Senate.

    (c) The Committee may use the staff and services of the Legislative Council to, in addition to other duties, obtain information on the performance of a judge or Justice by soliciting comments from members of the Vermont Bar and the public. (Added 1975, No. 204 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; amended 1985, No. 98, § 6; 2013, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 72.)

  • § 608. Functions

    (a) Declarations submitted to the General Assembly by a Supreme Court Justice under subsection 4(c) of this title, by a Superior Court judge under subsection 71(b) of this title, or by a magistrate under subsection 461(c) of this title shall be referred immediately to the Joint Committee on Judicial Retention. The declarations shall be accompanied by a supporting statement by the judge, the Justice, or the magistrate seeking retention. In the case of a Superior Court judge or magistrate, the declaration shall also be accompanied by information on the next succeeding rotation schedule for the judge seeking retention.

    (b) The Joint Committee responsible for the recommendation of retention shall review the candidacies of those Justices, Superior judges, and magistrates desiring to succeed themselves. In conducting its review, the Committee shall evaluate judicial performance, including such factors as integrity, judicial temperament, impartiality, health, diligence, legal knowledge and ability, and administrative and communicative skills.

    (c) For the purpose of receiving information and hearing testimony, the Joint Committee responsible for the recommendation of retention shall hold hearings which, if possible, shall not commence until the General Assembly is in session. Information obtained under subsection 607(c) of this title shall be confidential until the Committee commences its hearings under this subsection.

    (d) A judge, a Justice, or a magistrate seeking retention has the right to present oral or written testimony to the Committee relative to his or her retention, may be represented by counsel, and may present witnesses to testify in his or her behalf. Copies of written comments received by the Committee shall be forwarded to the judge, the Justice, or the magistrate. A judge, a Justice, or a magistrate seeking retention has the right to a reasonable time period to prepare and present to the Committee a response to any testimony or written complaint adverse to his or her retention and has the right to be present during any public hearing conducted by the Committee.

    (e) On or before the tenth Thursday after the convening of each biennial and adjourned session, the Committee shall report to the General Assembly its recommendation whether the candidates should continue in office, with any amplifying information which it may deem appropriate, in order that the General Assembly may discharge its obligation under Chapter II § 34 of the Constitution of the State of Vermont.

    (f) In the performance of its official functions, the Joint Committee on Judicial Retention may by a majority vote of its membership issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses to testify under oath and to produce documents.

    (g) The votes on retention under subsections 4(c), 71(b), and 461(c) of this title shall be conducted in one joint assembly of the General Assembly, except that in the event that the Joint Committee reports to the General Assembly that it is not able to make its recommendation on a particular Justice, judge, or magistrate under subsection (b) of this section on or before the date set for such joint assembly, the vote on such individual or individuals shall be deferred to a subsequent joint assembly, and separate ballots shall be used despite any other statutory provisions relating to the votes on retention. (Added 1975, No. 204 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; amended 1979, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.); 1985, No. 98, § 7; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 36; 2013, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 13; 2015, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 21.)

  • § 609. Judicial retirement

    (a) The justices of the Supreme Court and judges of all subordinate courts shall be required to retire at the end of the calendar year in which they attain 90 years of age.

    (b) This section shall not limit the Supreme Court's power to establish procedures for taking appropriate action to remove or suspend or restrict the services of an individual justice or judge of any age. (Added 2003, No. 49, § 1, eff. June 2, 2003.)