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Where’s the key?  In re Affidavit of Probable Cause, 2019 VT 43 By Elizabeth Kruska Interestingly, court records—by and large—are public documents. Suppose you read about a legal case on the interwebs and you think, “Huh. I think I’d like to know more about that case.” You can. You just go to the courthouse, ask to see the file, and in most cases, you get to look at it. You can even make copies. I…
Are they really lies?If there’s a privilege, it won’tsupport a defamation claim  Couture v. Trainer, 2017 VT 73 By Andrew Delaney Dad sued mom and aunt because he claimed that they coached daughter in saying “Daddy hit me.” He also alleged that they submitted defamatory audio and video recordings of daughter’s statements to his parole officer, and that mom made false statements to his parole officer and in mom’s petition for relief from abuse. Dad…
A bird. Because there aren’t really any good photos ofthe rules of civil procedure. I’ll keep this short.  Mr. and Mrs. Weitz want or wanted to get divorced. One or both of them live or lived in Massachusetts. They also have a house in Vermont and a house in New Hampshire. Mrs. Weitz filed for divorce in Vermont. Initially Mr. Weitz wanted the case to be heard in New Hampshire, but then agreed to Vermont.…
These biscotti have almonds baked in,not alimony  Atherton v. Atherton, 2019 VT 15 By Chris Larson I’m writing about this case from the Speakeasy Cafe in Rutland, eating a plate of almond cookies. As an aside, this is a really good cookie and a fabulous coffee shop. Check it out if you’re in our fair city. This aside is related to our discussion of this case because these cookies have fat almonds baked into them…
This is just a cool bird. In re Appeal of Sharon McSweeney This case seems like it’s about adoption but it’s really about statutory construction and administrative agency authority. There’s a federal law that provides for assistance with adoptions. If a child is adopted through DCF, DCF has a pool of federally-provided funds available to provide subsidies to the adoptive parents until the child turns 18. This makes sense; kids aren’t cheap, and to help…
Scales. Get it? Since I love analogies, I’m going to start with a true story analogy. My husband recently bought a car from someone he knows. This was a pleasant transaction and both parties walked away happy. So, here’s my husband, driving around in his new-to-him car. He gets home and decides he’s going to vacuum the floormats or something and he finds some stuff left behind in the car by the prior owner. He…
Get a client! Toensing v. The Attorney General of Vermont  This case resolves the dispute over attorneys’ fees arising from Public Records Act litigation between Brady Toensing, the Vice Chair of the Vermont Republican Party, and Vermont’s Attorney General. Toensing sought a broad range of email and private messaging records reflecting communications between some two handfuls of public officials and 44 individuals and entities and several domain names over a period of more than five…
A more-idyllic view of tracks Ziniti v. New England Central Railroad, 2019 VT 9 By Elizabeth Kruska This is an unfortunate case involving a train-vehicle collision. Mr. Ziniti was a student at Norwich University, and lived near a particular railroad crossing on Slaughterhouse Road in Northfield Falls. He was generally familiar with the area, and the fact trains went through a few times a day, although he perhaps wasn’t specifically familiar with this particular crossing.…