Vermont Supreme Court

Vermont Supreme Court

Seal of the Vermont Supreme Court
Established 1841
Country Vermont Vermont, United States United States
Location Montpelier, Vermont
Authorized by Vermont Constitution
Decisions are appealed to Supreme Court of the United States
Number of positions 5
Website Official website
Chief Justice
Currently Paul L. Reiber
Since December 17, 2004
The Vermont Supreme Court's building in Montpelier.
Interior of the courtroom
Detail of Vermont's coat of arms above the Court's main entrance.

The Vermont Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority of the U.S. state of Vermont. Unlike most other states, the Vermont Supreme Court hears appeals directly from the trial courts, as Vermont has no intermediate appeals court.

The Court consists of a chief justice and four associate justices; the Court mostly hears appeals of cases that have been decided by other courts. The Supreme Court justices are appointed by the Governor of Vermont with confirmation by the Vermont Senate. When a judicial vacancy occurs, the judicial nominating board submits to the governor the names of as many persons as it deems qualified for appointment.[1] All Supreme Court justices come up for retention at the same time every six years. The next retention date is March 31, 2017. The Joint Committee on Judicial Retention reviews a justice's performance during the previous term and recommends to the Vermont General Assembly whether the justice should be retained. The committee consists of four House members appointed by the Speaker of the House and four Senate members appointed by the Committee on Committees. After open debate and discussion, the General Assembly votes by secret ballot, with a majority having to vote against reappointment for a justice to be denied another term.[2]

In addition to the retention process, any Vermont judge may be removed at any time in one of two ways: (1) Judges may be impeached by a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly and convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, and (2) a Judicial Conduct Board investigates complaints of judicial misconduct or disability and recommends any necessary action to the Supreme Court.[3]

The current chief justice is Paul L. Reiber. Reiber was appointed Associate Justice in October 2003 by Gov. Jim Douglas and then sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Court on December 17, 2004.[4]

The Vermont Supreme Court has overall administrative control of the court system and makes administrative and procedural rules for all courts.

Vermont Supreme Court Building

The Vermont Supreme Court meets in a granite Beaux Arts style building in Montpelier just east of the Vermont State House and immediately west of the The Pavilion Office Building.

The building site was the original site of the first Vermont State Building, a three storey wooden colonial Georgian structure built in 1808 by Sylvanus Baldwin.[5]


Title Name Joined the Court[6] Appointed by
Chief Justice Paul L. Reiber 2003 Jim Douglas
Associate Justice John Dooley 1987 Madeleine M. Kunin
Associate Justice Marilyn Skoglund 1997 Howard Dean
Associate Justice Beth Robinson 2011 Peter Shumlin
Associate Justice Harold "Duke" Eaton, Jr. 2014 Peter Shumlin


The original constitution called for a "Council of Censors" which provided oversight for the court and its membership. The Council was abolished in 1870.[7]

Prominent individuals who have served as Chief Justice include Governor and United States Senator Moses Robinson; Senator Nathaniel Chipman; Governor and Senator Isaac Tichenor; Governor and Senator Jonathan Robinson; playwright Royall Tyler; Governor Richard Skinner; Senator Dudley Chase; Governor Cornelius P. Van Ness; Senator Samuel Prentiss; Governor Charles K. Williams; Governor Stephen Royce; Congressman Luke P. Poland; Congressman Homer Royce; Senator Jonathan Ross; and U.S. District Court Judge Franklin S. Billings, Jr.

Olin M. Jeffords, the father of Senator James M. Jeffords, served as Chief Justice from 1955 to 1958.


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