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By Andy Delaney
Two opinions yesterday.
I used to do some family law. One thing I never fully understood was the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act aka the UCCJEA. That’s not going to change today. In our first November 20 case, biological dad argues that his Alabama custody order giving him sole custody trumps Vermont’s order giving DCF custody of his child. Without getting too far into the weeds, Vermont’s DCF-involved proceedings started well before dad filed his action in Alabama and this case essentially boils down to Vermont having jurisdiction—and not being required to recognize Alabama’s order—because the proceedings here started first in time. The wrinkle in this case is that dad wasn’t involved in the beginning because mom’s husband (not plaintiff here) was considered father in the beginning of the Vermont proceedings. SCOV concludes there was no error in the family division’s refusal to recognize the Alabama order because Alabama didn’t have jurisdiction to issue the order in the first place. W.H. v. Dept. for Children and Families, 2020 VT 104.
Our second November 20 opinion is an administrative-law romp dealing with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Allco Renewable Energy (and a subsidiary), and Allco’s contention that the PUC didn’t play it straight when awarding contracts. That’s a grossly oversimplified version of the case of course—it’s about the same length as the case name itself. SCOV finds no glaring errors and affirms. In re Investigation to Review the Avoided Costs that Serve as Prices for the Standard-Offer Program in 2019, 2020 VT 103.
Only one opinion on Friday the 13th. This one is about bar eligibility—specifically, whether a passing, 2016, pre-UBE (uniform bar exam) score does the trick when it comes to showing minimum professional competence these days. The short answer is it doesn’t, though a lot of arguments get thrown around by appellant in an attempt to shove that square peg in this particular round hole. Of note, applicant had already gotten 86’ed on character-and-fitness grounds a couple years back (you can read all about that here). He argues all kinds of things all the way up to a vested property right in his 2016 score, an unlawful Fifth Amendment taking, and violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Talk about making your bed . . . SCOV, unsurprisingly, holds that the 2016 score is past its expiration date. In re Grundstein, 2020 VT 102.