Vermont Supreme Court Decisions

Dating from 1777, the Vermont Supreme Court holds the authority to make final decisions in appeals arising from any case in a Vermont court. The Supreme Court also supervises the legal profession in the state, including disciplinary matters for judges and attorneys. It issues rules of procedure for civil, criminal, and family cases, as well as the appellate process. Five justices serve on the Supreme Court, which was ranked as the seventh-most liberal state supreme court in the U.S. in a Stanford University study in 2012.

To serve on the Vermont Supreme Court, a prospective justice must have practiced law in Vermont for more than five of the last 10 years. Vermont imposes a mandatory retirement age of 70 on its justices, so no candidate can be 70 or older. Each justice serves a six-year term. Vermont uses the assisted appointment process to choose justices. This means that the Governor of Vermont reviews a list of candidates and chooses one of them to serve on the Court. Vermont differs from most states with regard to the process of retaining justices. Rather than holding a retention election or a general election, the state requires the legislature to vote on whether a justice should be retained at the end of their term.

A controversial decision by the Supreme Court involved the right to a speedy trial in a criminal case. It overturned a conviction of a defendant who was not tried for nearly three years after he was arrested. The delay resulted from the withdrawals and replacements of several public defenders, often at the defendant’s request. The Supreme Court ruled that the state had violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial because it had not provided a public defender to represent him in a timely manner. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision, ruling that public defenders work for their clients rather than the state. Delays or gaps in representation caused by the public defender or the defendant do not infringe on the right to a speedy trial.

Browse Opinions From the Vermont Supreme Court

Recent Decisions From the Vermont Supreme Court
In re T.H.
Date: October 7, 2019
Citation: 2007 VT 115
Docket Number: 2019-112
Vermont v. Alzaga  
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2019 VT 75
Docket Number: 2018-149

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant Paul Alzaga appealed his conviction for DUI refusal. On appeal, defendant argued: (1) the trial court erred in admitting testimony indicating that defendant had refused to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) a...

Sutton, et al. v. Vermont Regional Center, et al.  
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2019 VT 71
Docket Number: 2018-158

Justia Opinion Summary: Plaintiff-investors appealed the dismissal of their claims against the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) and current and former state employees arising from the operation of a federally licensed...

State v. Jack P. Dickson
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2014 VT 85
Docket Number: 2018-245
Vermont, et al. v. Quiros, et al.  
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2019 VT 68
Docket Number: 2018-251

Justia Opinion Summary: This case arose from a series of plans overseen by defendants to develop several real estate projects in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Work on these projects spanned eight years, including fundraising and planning st...

Epsom v. Crandall  
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2019 VT 74
Docket Number: 2018-290

Justia Opinion Summary: The issue presented for the Vermont Supreme Court's review in this matter centered on a timber trespass action brought by plaintiffs against a neighboring landowner and the logger who cut plaintiffs' trees. Plaintiffs ap...

In re Allen Rheaume
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2007 VT 54
Docket Numbers: 2018-331, 2018-337, 2019-052
State v. Tyler D. Bullis
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2009 VT 51
Docket Number: 2018-336
In re Miles Otis Dow, Jr.  
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2019 VT 72
Docket Number: 2018-366

Justia Opinion Summary: Petitioner, Miles Otis Dow, Jr., filed a motion for post-conviction relief (PCR) with the Windham Civil Division. He was convicted of aggravated assault stemming from events that occurred in March 2014. In March 2017, p...

State v. Robert Austin
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2016 VT 16
Docket Number: 2019-059
Nordic Holsteins LLC v. Town of Charlotte
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2009 VT 109
Docket Number: 2019-066
In re Courtney E. Herrick
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2014 VT 42
Docket Number: 2019-084
Jonathan Hough v. Samantha Cronin
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2018 VT 38
Docket Number: 2019-088
Rick LaPrade v. Lisa Menard, Commissioner
Date: October 4, 2019
Docket Number: 2019-126
Andrew Straw v. Village of Streamwood et al.
Date: October 4, 2019
Citation: 2016 VT 22
Docket Number: 2019-147
The opinions published on Justia State Caselaw are sourced from individual state court sites. These court opinions may not be the official published versions, and you should check your local court rules before citing to them. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site, or the information linked to on the state site.