Thursday, May 31, 2012

Old MacDonald Had a Farm (C-L-E, C-L-E)

Every June is the season of re-licensing for approximately 50% of Vermont's lawyers.

That means it is time to get your Continuing Legal Education credits together.

If you are one of the lucky ones looking to re-up for another term, you probably are looking for CLEs anywhere you can get them.

Have we got a deal for you!

On Monday, June 4th at the Capital Plaza in Montpelier, the Vt. Bar Association will be hosting an Agriculture Law Day.  Seven jam-packed hours of CLE credit available on the beautiful banks of the Winooski River.

Check it out here.

Even if you don't need CLEs, you should still plan to attend.

As Vermont's agriculture expands and diversifies, more and more legal issues have begun to arise.

From immigration to property taxes to land use to food labeling, being a farmer is a complicated endeavor where the benefit of counsel is essential.

Come join us, and learn about the issues facing Vermonters who enter the agricultural business or those that simply live next to them.

You will be a better lawyer for it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Surf’s Up



City of Montpelier v. Barnett, 2012 VT 32.

For 125 years, no one has been permitted to swim, boat, or even approach Berlin Pond.  As Montpelier’s water source, it has been verboten and off-limits to one and all.  In 2009, Defendants against all conventional wisdom began looking into promoting recreation on the pond.  They were arrested and cited by the Montpelier police for kayaking on the pond.  In response, one of the defendants drew up and began promoting an ice fishing derby on the Pond.  He even went and obtained permits from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Agency of Natural Resources. 

This was simply too much for the City of Montpelier.  No one swims in their water, and they were not going to stand for this persistent, quixotic protest against public health and decency. 

Then something went wrong.  The City, like that proverbial emperor, had no clothes, and now the swim club sign-up sheets have reappeared. 

Twelve Bar Supplemental Blues



Montgomery v. 232511 Investments, Ltd., 2012 VT 31 (mem.).

If you practice land use law in Vermont the phrase Stowe Club Highlands acts like a CIA sleeper agent’s trigger and will cause you to automatically rattle off the three conditions that allow you to alter an existing permit (unanticipated change in law or fact, unanticipated change in conditions, or changes in technology). 

If you don’t, the phrase probably conjures up the image of a yuppie playing the bagpipes in front of a ski lift.

Unconditional Surrender



In re Pellenz, 2012 VT 39 (mem.).

Today’s case is a whole four paragraphs.  I will try to be shorter.  Respondent was an attorney in New Hampshire with a license in Vermont. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

In da Club

With the Return of April, it is time once more for lawyers young and old to emerge from their office or cubical and descend upon Montpelier to share a drink and break appetizers with one another again.

Yes, that's right the annual Vermont Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division May Mixer is at Hand.

This year it is at the Black Door on Main Street in Montpelier (ask a local for directions)

It is on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 5pm until the drinks run dry (7pm).

Tell the partner and your clients that you have a post-court hearing and come over.

We hope to see you there.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself


By Nicole Killoran

In re A.C., 2012 VT 30 (mem.).

Today’s case involves an evidentiary maze that demonstrates the importance of objecting.  Defendant, A.C., and his co-Defendant, T.W., both high school students, had the terrible idea to tag-team grope a female classmate in the hallway outside science class.  The State routed A.C. and T.W., both juveniles, through the juvenile delinquency system.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Public Records Everywhere and Not a Document Released



Rueger v. Natural Resources Board, 2012 VT 33.

It has been quite a spring for public record watchers.  In no less than three cases, the SCOV has written lengthy and dense opinions about the nature and scope of public record requests and the exemptions available.  Throw in the last decision of 2011 as well as today’s opinion, and it is clear, the SCOV is on a roll. 

This is good news for any student of good government, but it is certainly a warning to any party preparing to make a public record request: read your SCOV Law Blog because things are changing.

Shields Engaged



O’Connor v. Donovan, 2012 VT 27.

Let us make this summary short because it does no good to repeat in any great detail the careful analysis offered by the SCOV in this decision.

Plaintiff was a police officer in South Burlington, who gained a reputation for investigating drug crimes.  Enter Defendant who was elected Chittenden County State’s Attorney in 2006.  The two did not apparently get along, and Defendant took increasingly stronger action against Plaintiff, including meeting with Plaintiff’s superiors to criticize him; refusing to prosecute cases or issue warrants based on Plaintiff’s affidavits; accusing Plaintiff of dishonesty; speaking against Plaintiff when he sought to join the State Police; and distributing information that reflected poorly on Plaintiff to various defense attorneys.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

On the Sunny Side of the Street



In re Petition of Cross Pollination, 2012 VT 29 (mem.).

In the law, success occasionally brings legislative change.  If David defeats Goliath on a technicality today, you can be sure that the Philistine lobbyists will be in the statehouse tomorrow urging the General Assembly to close that loophole.

So it was that a series of victories against proposed electrical power generating projects at the Act 250 and local zoning level gave way to a quiet, but massive, reform in how such projects are reviewed.

Scrappy Scrappers



Rathe Salvage, Inc. v. R. Brown & Sons, Inc., 2012 VT 18

Once upon a time, there was a jury trial.  Two kingdoms, Hauler and Yard, were engaged in a fierce battle because the King of Yard felt that the King of Hauler had cheated the Kingdom of Yard out of its fair proceeds of their mutual endeavor: scrap haulin’. When the smoke cleared, the jury said “Yea, verily, Hauler has committed breach of contract, common law fraud, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and consumer fraud.”  The trial court, at Hauler’s request, overturned the jury’s finding of consumer fraud.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Herald Strikes Back



Rutland Herald v. City of Rutland, 2012 VT 26.

In the game of requesting public records there are two interrelated rules.

Rule one is that it does not matter who you are when you ask for documents.[1] 

Rule two is that makes all the difference in the world who you are asking.[2] 

For proof of this second rule, I submit today’s case and its predecessor from a few weeks ago. 

Caveat Venditor Part Deux: But Wait, There’s More!


By Nicole Killoran

Gregory v. Poulin Auto Sales, 2012 VT 28 (mem.)

Today’s case explains why that special greasy sensation you get when you purchase a vehicle from a used car lot may just be that new consumer fraud smell.