The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 001 : FAMILY COURT(Cite as: 4 V.S.A. § 457)
§ 457. Participation and availability of assistant judges
(a) Application. This section shall apply in all proceedings in which the Family Court consists of one presiding judge and two assistant judges.
(b) Questions of law and fact. In all proceedings, questions of law shall be decided by the presiding judge. Mixed questions of law and fact shall be deemed to be questions of law. The presiding judge alone shall decide which are questions of law, questions of fact, and mixed questions of law and fact. Written or oral stipulations of fact submitted by the parties shall establish the facts related therein, except that the presiding judge, in his or her discretion, may order a hearing on any stipulated fact. Neither the decision of the presiding judge under this subsection nor participation by an assistant judge in a ruling of law shall be grounds for reversal unless a party makes a timely objection and raises the issue on appeal.
(c) Availability of assistant judges. If two assistant judges are not available, the court shall consist of one presiding judge and one assistant judge. If neither assistant judge is available, the court shall consist of the presiding judge alone, and the unavailability of an assistant judge shall not constitute reversible error.
(d) Mistrial. In the event that court is being held by the presiding judge and one assistant judge, and they do not agree on a decision, a mistrial shall be declared. If the case is retried, the court shall consist of the presiding judge alone or the presiding judge and two assistant judges.
(e) Method of determining availability. Before commencing a hearing in any matter in which the court by law may consist of the presiding judge and assistant judges, the assistant judges shall determine whether they are available for the case. A schedule of proceedings in Family Court in which the assistant judges by law may participate shall be made available sufficiently in advance to give assistant judges reasonable opportunity to determine in which cases they will participate. If two or more cases are being heard at one time, and assistant judges may by law participate in either, each assistant judge may determine in which case he or she will participate.
(f) Duty to complete hearing or trial. After an assistant judge has decided to participate in a hearing or trial, the assistant judge shall not withdraw therefrom except for cause. However, if an assistant judge is not available for a scheduled hearing or trial or becomes unavailable during trial, the matter may continue without that assistant judge's participation, and he or she may not return to participate.
(g) Emergency relief. A presiding judge may hear a petition for emergency relief when the court is not sitting, and may issue temporary orders as necessary. (Added 1989, No. 221 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1990.)