Friday, June 29, 2012

Don’t Tape Me, Bro!



Hall v. State of Vt., 2012 VT 43.

Employment discrimination cases are often difficult for two reasons. The first are a series of highly technical evidentiary and procedural gates that swing back and forth between employer and employee depending on the stage of the case.  The second is the complicated factual story that precedes the litigation.

Today’s case is much more focused on the second difficulty as the SCOV tries to untangle a complicated web of releases, allegedly retaliatory behavior and a tardy set of decisions from the trial court.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Moving Target



State v. Burke, 2012 VT 50.

First Principle: When you file over 190 pre-trial motions, you are not going to have much luck convincing the SCOV that you were denied a right to a speedy trial.

Second Principle: If you threaten the prosecutor, your defense attorney, the court, and witnesses, you will likely be shackled during the trial—no matter how bad it looks.

Third Principle: When you are on trial for sexual assault, and the primary issues are consent and credibility, you do yourself no favors if you become agitated, aggressive, and angry every time you are in court. 

Fourth Principle: Do not repeatedly insult the court and attorneys.  If you feel you have to make over a hundred insults in a single hearing, you are probably on the wrong track and are probably repeating yourself.  o

Fifth Principle: When you have violated the first four principles, it is probably a good time to go to the mirror and ask, Am I really doing myself any good with all this?
(Hint: No.)

So what happened? 

Thank You for Participating



In re Petition of New Cingular Wireless, 2012 VT 46.

Mapping the legal world is like any project in geography.  It is a matter of figuring out the location and outline of each little sovereign state, and then placing them within the whole and establishing where the lines connect. 

In that light, let us consider the legal sovereign known as the Public Service Board.  This is the state entity that reviews, approves, and oversees the various utilities in Vermont.  It is part of the reason why you only have one choice for electricity.  For efficiency, the State has licensed to each utility the exclusive right to provide such a service within a discrete area.  In return for this monopoly, the utility submits to the authority of the PSB and makes regular filings for rates, services, and any changes. 

Writ Large



State v. Sinclair, 2012 VT 47.

In prison, your options are limited.  After daily meals, you can attend chapel with Johnny Cash, walk the yard with Cutty and Wee-Bay, sit in your cell contemplating your crime with George Bluth, or you can file motions to attack your underlying conviction. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Son of Payback



Doe v. Vermont Office of Health Access, 2012 VT 15A.

Don’t sequels always disappoint?  Today’s case is a re-publishing of a decision that the SCOV issued back in March and was first summarized here

Foolish Consistency



Vt. Human Rights Commission v. State of Vt. Agency of Transportation, 2012 VT 45.

At first glance today’s case appears to be a bit of a humdrum.  One state agency challenges the other over the precise meaning of particular terms in a statute.  It appears to have all the excitement as the one-dollar wagers that Randolph and Mortimer Duke used to make.  But like the Dukes’ wagers, the real story of today’s case is how the meaning of such words impacts the lives of those around the agencies.  There is more going on here than frozen orange juice futures. 

What is at stake is vacation time. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Play Musty for Me



In re Musty Permit, 2012 VT 42.

Here is the big difference between zoning cases and just about every other case an attorney comes across on the docket. 

When a civil, criminal, or family case is resolved, it is done.  End of the civil cases means somebody does or does not get money.  End of the criminal case means defendant goes to jail or does not.  End of the family case means someone gets the kids, someone gets the money, and someone gets Fido. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Fuzzy Fine Flooring Fiasco



First Quality Carpets, Inc. v. Kirschbaum, 2012 VT 38

Today’s case will floor you—

But seriously, folks  . . . in 2007, the Kirschbaums bought some carpet from First Quality and hired the company to install the same in their home.  Under the terms of their agreement, the Buyers agreed to split payments into thirds (1/3 down; 1/3 when carpet arrived from manufacturer; and 1/3 when it was installed).  In accord with this, Buyers made the first two payments with a credit card. 

Here, of course, is where it gets interesting.

The Jurisdictions That Bind Us


By Michael Tarrant

Yanmar American Corp. v. Crean Equipment Co., 2012 VT 35 (mem.).

Back in 2006 and 2008, Defendant, an equipment company located in Pittsford, Vermont, entered into dealer agreements with Plaintiff—an equipment supplier and a corporation registered in the state of Georgia—to purchase equipment and display it for sale in Vermont. 

In 2007, Defendant purchased some equipment from the Georgia Supplier, financed through a third party. In 2009, Defendant fell on hard economic times and defaulted on its loan. This resulted in the Georgia Supplier canceling Defendant’s contract and repossessing the equipment purchased through the agreement. 

After repossession, Georgia Supplier realized that the equipment had been put to heavy use, which Defendant did not dispute. Georgia Supplier thus billed Defendant $40,200 for the depreciated value of the equipment.  No surprise, Defendant did not pay this either.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Smooth Move


By Nicole Killoran

State v. Kolibas, 2012 VT 37.

Today’s case illustrates the difference of perception, the need for proof by the State, and the obligation of the court to hold the prosecution to that standard.

Defendant’s daughter had her teenage friend over one night for a sleepover.  Defendant decided to whip up a batch of smoothies as a delicious after-dinner treat.  However, Defendant was apparently concerned for his wife’s stress level, and decided to quietly pepper his wife’s drink with an Ambien and half a Valium.  Unbeknownst to Defendant, his wife, disinterested in her fruity drink with a hidden side of stress-relief, dumped her share into her husband’s glass.  How the drink got from Defendant’s glass to its eventual recipient is unclear.

No Love for Thy Neighbor’s Logger


By Jeff Thomson

Knappmiller v. Bove, 2012 VT 38 (mem.).

Some cases should never go to trial.  Many disputes are better suited for the mediation table than the court room.  Small disputes between neighbors often belong in this category, because mediation can help maintain neighborly relations and prevent significant legal fees.  Unfortunately, some neighbors are unable to see the forest for the trees. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Range of Vision



State v. McCarthy, 2012 VT 34

On a warm day in September 2008 as clouds began to collect and blot out the sun that had dominated the morning, Defendant began setting up a shooting range.  He started by mowing the backyard of his suburban Essex home.  Then he erected targets, creating an area where he could fire from the back of his house without obstruction.  When it was done, he invited friends to join him.  One brought an SKS-style semi-automatic rifle; another, a shotgun.  By all evidence, the party had a good time.  They enjoyed the outdoors and the last bit of warmth from Vermont’s Indian summer.

As evening rolled around, the party began winding down.  It was at that time that police came out the woods, and the party learned that an errant bullet from their range had struck and killed the Neighbor—a beloved St. Michael’s College professor—while he ate dinner with his wife.