Friday, December 30, 2011

Are You My Attorney?

Handverger v. City of Winooski, 2011 VT 134.

Round two in the dispute between the City of Winooski and its former City Manager came out two weeks after the first

Where the first case focused on the process due to plaintiff for his termination, the second focuses on the relationship between plaintiff and the City’s Attorney.

“You have the right to remain silent . . .”

State v. Robitaille, 2011 VT 135

Arrested?  —Just shut up. 


Any criminal-defense attorney will tell you—the police are not in the business of helping defendants.  Do not talk to them.  They are not your friends, and they are not there to help you.   They are there to investigate a case, arrest you, and obtain a confession or evidence of guilt if possible.  So if you are in custody, bite your tongue and wait for your attorney.

Team America

SEC America, LLC v. Marine Electric Systems, Inc., 2011 VT 125 (mem.).

What do you get when you cross a first-year contracts exam with international, high-tech weapons defense?  Here it goes…

In 2007, EMW, an Israeli company owned by a gentleman named Alon Wallach, created a device called the MILJAM 350.  This “jammer” disrupts the remote detonation of improvised explosive devices or IEDs—and it makes a great stocking stuffer!  EMW then entered into talks with NATO to sell its MILJAM 350 jammers to NATO for its forces to use in Afghanistan.

You Can’t Go Home Again

Wilson v. Wilson, 2011 VT 133 (mem.).

Let us not waste time, good reader, and cut to the chase.  Today’s case illustrates a basic principle of family law: property distributions are forever.

Wrong Place, Right Time

Kennery v. State of Vermont, 2011 VT 121.

Liability is a curious thing.  In our society, we have long had the right to sue each other for the injuries that we inflict on one another.  Despite, the propaganda, liability serves an important function.  Each day that we leave our house, we move under an obligation to other people.  We must behave in a careful, cautious, and reasonable manner.  It is what stops ideas like this from becoming too widespread.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Too Clever by Half

In re Morin, 2011 VT 132 (mem.).

It is possible to be too clever, especially when that cleverness involves procedural maneuvers.  In this case a criminal Defendant tried some clever maneuvering and ended up right back where he started.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Branch Will Not Break

Handverger v. City of Winooski, 2011 VT 130 (mem.).

Not every illness has a cure.  Not every wrong receives a right.  All dogs do not get their day. 

In the law, we are deceived to believe that if we fight hard enough, file quickly, and raise enough evidence that a hearing concerning our clients’ rights will follow in due course.  If the hearing goes badly, we file an appeal, brief the arguments and aim for a second shot.  But as the SCOV has recently instructed, a brief, flawed hearing may be the only process due.  With today’s case, the SCOV goes a little further and suggests that even this is a privilege, which may be abridged without consequence.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lack of Intervention

By Jeffrey Thomson

State v. Carrolton, 2011 VT 131

It is easy to assume that the criminal justice system makes easy work out of punishing criminals when there is no question of guilt or innocence.  If someone pleads guilty to a crime, then the prosecutors charge them with the crime, and the trial court sets the punishment. 

Easy as pie, right? 

Not quite.

Eats, Shoots and Hoards

Lay v. Pettengill, 2011 VT 127

Like so many people on reality TV these days, Plaintiff was a pack rat.  Unlike most hoarders, Plaintiff was a state trooper and over the course of three years, he gathered twenty-seven items from various criminal investigations and placed them in his desk.  Eventually, the fellows over in Internal Affairs caught on to Trooper Lay’s hoarding habit, and once they suspected something was amiss, they acted swiftly and decisively.  Without warning they suspended Plaintiff, revoked his access to the police barracks, and took away his badge, identification, gun, police cruiser, and keys. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

International Crisis

In re RW and NW, 2011 VT 124.

This case is a mess that does not really resolve itself.  Like a couple of heavyweights the majority opinion and the concurrence work over their opponents, land a few solid blows, then go to their corners to wait for the decision.  The end result is less a triumph of reasoning than the exhaustion of good options as each one proves to be unworkable in the general scheme.

The Importance of Being CC’d

By Nicole Killoran

Colson v. Town of Randolph, 2011 VT 129 (mem.).

Today’s case is a complex story composed of a series of unfortunate mistakes.  The various threads in this tale consist of two state agencies, two liens, a fireman, a municipal insurance provider, some unpaid child support, a frustrated and unpaid attorney, and the proceeds from a workers compensation injury claim settlement.  What could possibly weave these together, you may ask?  As the SCOV puts it: “avoidable error and its consequences.”

The Fentanyl Fiasco

Puppolo v. Donovan & O’Connor, LLC, 2011 VT 119 (mem.).

Be careful when you turn down a case. 

Dear Aunt Eva died from heart failure.  She was eighty-three years old and a patient in a nursing home.  Eva’s niece arrived minutes after Eva died.  The niece saw Fentanyl patches on Aunt Eva and concluded that Aunt Eva died due to a Fentanyl overdose.  Eva’s doctor claimed that the Fentanyl was for severe-pressure-ulcer pain, but Eva’s niece knew better. 

The Good Son

By Michael Tarrant

Knutsen v. Cegalis, 2011 VT 128 (mem.).

Of all the joys that bringing a child into the world entails, deciding which parent should retain primary custody after a separation is surely not one of them. In this unfortunate case, Mother and Father could not agree as to who would retain primary custody of their son after separating shortly after their son’s birth, and thus turned to the court system for help.