Vermont Court Records

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How Does The Vermont Supreme Court Work?

The Vermont Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of Vermont with the authority to make final decisions on matters brought before it.

The court generally has five main functions:

  • Hears and decides appeals arising from the decisions of the trial courts, such as state courts as well as state and municipal agencies,
  • Adopts the recommendations of the boards and committees appointed to make rules and procedures for civil, criminal, family, environmental, and appellate cases,
  • Oversees the management of the state’s court system,
  • Supervises the admission of attorneys to the state bar,
  • Exercises disciplinary oversight on judicial officers and attorneys

The Vermont Supreme Court has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all decisions reached at superior courts, except as otherwise stated by any law. 

It also has original jurisdiction, which runs concurrently with that of superior courts. This occurs in matters dealing with writs of certiorari, orders of mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, and other orders that help to further the course of justice.

Note that the Vermont Supreme Court may also exercise appellate jurisdiction over matters where it has original jurisdiction. This may occur in situations where an order of certiorari was sought at the superior court. An appeal to the Supreme Court may be required to overturn the order.

In its appellate jurisdiction, the Vermont Supreme Court does not carry out a new trial, nor does it entertain new evidence. Instead, it reviews the superior courts’ judgment and determines if any error was made in procedure or the application of the law.

There are two steps to take when an appellant is seeking an appeal, including:

  • Filing and serving a notice of appeal
  • Filing a docketing statement and ordering a transcript

Filing a notice of appeal is done with the body that made the decision to be appealed. It is important to note the time allocated within which the appellant should file the notice of appeal. The notice of appeal should be sent to:

Vermont Supreme Court

109 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05609. 

Note that the appellant must also send copies of the notice of appeal to the other parties and pay the filing fees.

Where the appellant cannot afford the filing fees, the person may complete an “application to waive filing fees, and service costs form.” The appellant must submit the form along with the notice of appeal.

The appellant may also file a docketing statement and if needed, order transcripts of any hearings which may assist the Supreme court in evaluating the appeal. These must be done within 14 days of filing the notice of appeal. For more information on the appeal rules and procedures, visit the court’s website.

To file a document with the Vermont Supreme Court, deliver it to the Supreme court Docket Clerk by any of the following means:

  • In-person at the Vermont Supreme Court
  • Via US Mail or a courier service using the contact details below:

Vermont Supreme Court

109 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05609

Note that except with the permission of the court, the appellant may not file a document by fax or email.

Also, note that some documents require persons to file more than one copy. For more information on the number of copies to be filed, visit the Vermont Judiciary website.

The Vermont Supreme Court is composed of the Chief Justice and four Associate Justices. These Justices are appointed by the Governor upon recommendation from the Judicial Nominating Board and confirmation by the Senate. The appointee is subject to a term of six years, except in situations where the appointment is to fill a vacancy. There is also the possibility of retention if approved by the General Assembly.

To become a Vermont Supreme Court Justice, the candidate must be resident in the state and have practiced law for a minimum cumulative period of ten years. Of the ten years, the candidate must have practiced for at least five years prior to the application. However, the provision of five years may be waived for military, family, academic, or medical reasons. 

A candidate for the position of the Vermont Supreme Court Justice is expected to possess the following attributes:

  • Proven record of integrity
  • Legal knowledge and ability
  • Judicial temperament 
  • Impartiality 
  • Communication capability 
  • Financial probity and integrity
  • Work ethic
  • Administrative capabilities 
  • Courtroom experience and other attributes the board deems fit.

If the office of the Chief Justice becomes vacant, the next most senior Justice is obliged to act until a new Chief Justice is appointed.

Where a Justice involved in any case retires before reaching a final decision on the case, the Justice is required to remain a member of the court until the case is concluded. Note, the Justice must remain in office until a successor has been appointed, except upon resignation or removal. Also, a Vermont Supreme Court Justice is not allowed to be an officer in a railroad, banking, or Insurance corporation.

The Vermont Supreme court is located in Montpelier, at the following address:

111 State Street 

Montpelier, VT 05609–0801

(802)–828–4774

JUD.SupremeCourt@vermont.gov

Vermont Supreme Court Mailing Address:

109 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05609–0801.

Note that the court is usually open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, with a lunch break from 12:15 pm to 12:45 pm. When visiting the court, all electronic devices must be silenced. For more information on rules in the court premises, visit the court’s website.

Every case in the Vermont Supreme Court is resolved by a written decision. This written decision may be made by all five Justices or the Justices on a three-Justice panel. The three-Justice panel is usually constituted where the matter involves an area of settled law. On the other hand, the full court panel is constituted to establish a new rule of law or an area that involves a substantial degree of public interest.

Decisions reached by a three-Justice panel are sometimes called memorandum decisions and are usually not included in the Vermont reports. Although considered unpublished, memorandum decisions may be found on the judiciary website. Note that these decisions do not constitute a binding precedent on other courts in Vermont.

Decisions reached by the five Justices are considered published opinions. All published opinions are available on the judiciary website and also in the Vermont reports. Published decisions create a binding precedent on other courts.

Also, note that all decisions on the website, whether published or memorandum, may not be used as an official version of the court’s opinion.

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