Monday, February 27, 2012

Failed Inspections


State v. Chaplin, 2012 VT 6 (mem.).

Maybe it’s no coincidence that not long after the SCOV announced a plan to tidy-up Vermont’s search warrant record-keeping system it released today’s case, which shores up the jurisprudence, too.  Sit up, criminal defense bar, the SCOV just road-mapped your next suppression motion for you.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I’ll Take “Modifying Evidence,” For One Thousand, Alex

By Michael Tarrant

State v. Stolte, 2012 VT 12 (mem.).

The criminal justice system is serious business—all the more so when the charge is murder.  And whatever you believe “justice” means, one thing is certain: the ultimate result means a great deal to the person sitting in the defendant’s seat.  With dire consequences at stake, it’s a curious thing that often one’s fate can hinge on the meaning of a single term.  A picture might be worth a thousand words, but a word can be worth a life in prison.

Pulling Off the Udders


Murray v. City of Burlington, 2012 VT 11 (mem.).

In the world of the SCOV there are cases that expand and enlarge our understanding of the law, pushing forward answers that clarify the ambiguities that arise in various areas of practice.  Other cases clarify important points of procedure, untangle the web of decisions and cross-motions to bring sense and order to litigation run amok.  Then there are cases like today’s.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

No Peeking under the Codicil


In re Estate of Perry, 2012 VT 9 (mem.).

Wills are legal documents intended to express our final wishes—Our last chance to give a gift to our loyal friends and family—An opportunity to challenge a distant relation to spend $30 million in order to inherit $300 million. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cutting Out of Work Early

By Nicole Killoran

St. Martin v. Department of Labor, 2012 VT 8 (mem.).

Ah, the joy of payday!  You’ve slaved away all week, suffered the petty tantrums of your boss, politely entertained your annoying coworkers political rants, and shaved a few minutes off your life expectancy with that 9th cup of coffee you needed just to make it past the 3 PM hour.  You deserve a paycheck for being one of millions of worker drones in this hive of office space.

Monday, February 6, 2012

So . . . . What’s an employer?


Marcum v. Agency of Human Services, 2012 VT 3 (mem.).

Workers’ compensation offers financial support for anyone injured in the course of her employment.  It is one of the great compromises between management and labor in the modern era.  Employers, by statute are obliged to cover the costs of injuries suffered by their employees at work, and workers are limited to the regulated compensations levels built into the system. 

The trade-offs are critical.  Employers agree to cover all work place injuries in exchange for limiting their exposure to potentially large judgments.  Employees, in exchange for the big personal injury payouts, do not have to prove that the employer was at fault or caused the injury.  For workers, this means that their case revolves around three issues: proving that the injury occurred in the course of employment, proving the extent of their injuries, and establishing that they were employees of the employer. 

On that last point, today’s case revolves and constitutes another entry in the on-going debate between what constitutes employment and when are you just an independent contractor with your compensation hanging out in the proverbial wind. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

O Just but Severe Law!


Pierce v. Vaughn, 2012 VT 5 (mem.).

One the more shocking parts of practicing law in Vermont is simply watching how many individuals represent themselves.  Some statistics, for example, suggest that up to 80% of litigants in family court are pro se.  For anyone concerned about fair play and justice that is a figure that should give pause.

Your Googling Eyes

By Nicole Killoran

State v. Abdi, 2012 VT 4

If you are a denizen of the Internet, as is obviously the case if you are reading this article, then you probably understand the burning itch to find more information about a very particular subject.  You know the feeling: you have a conversation about an obscure topic, be it the proper pronunciation of the word “neanderthal” or the air speed of an unladen swallow, and you cannot rest until you have googled enough information on the subject to pass a standardized test in either anthropology or aerodynamics.  

The Internet has effectively erased the barriers between the average human and his or her ability to gather large amounts of meaningless information on random subjects without resorting to bookshelf or library.  No longer does laziness stand in the way of curiosity.  In other words, it is the future, and we are all Cliff Clavin.

Anonymous in Fact

By Michael Tarrant

State v. Wyrocki, 2012 VT 7

Remember making a prank phone call as a child?  Did you ever repeatedly call the same poor soul over and over?  Well, if you did, odds are that you did it in the days before caller ID, and you did not give your name or identifying information to the person on the other end of the line.  After all, if your victim knew who you were, that would mean you could like, get in trouble and stuff.  

Of course saying this is only prelude to introducing a Defendant who illustrates the folly behind this basic premise.