|| A Judge Lynching: POSSIBLE SUSPENSION OF JUDGE COULD PUNISH COUNTY COURTS|
WINDSOR COUNTY COURTHOUSE NEWS (#51808)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (18 May 2008)
CONTACT: William Boardman (802) 457-1782
LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
POSSIBLE SUSPENSION OF JUDGE COULD PUNISH COUNTY COURTS
By William Boardman, Assistant Judge
WOODSTOCK - Despite a flurry of news stories suggesting otherwise, Assistant Judge William Boardman of Windsor County has not been suspended from any of his duties, judicial or executive. That won't happen till mid-June, at the soonest.
In the event that an Assistant Judge is suspended from all his duties, the impact on Windsor County would include disruption of the small claims docket, added stress on the Judicial Bureau's traffic and municipal ordinances docket, disruption of the Family Court's uncontested divorce docket, and the inability of county government to function.
In a widely reported press release last week, the Judicial Conduct Board (JCB) gave the false impression that Assistant Judge William Boardman ...
had been suspended from all his judicial and non-judicial duties. This is not true. Because the JCB contacted the media before Judge Boardman had seen either the JCB press release, or the board's opinion, he did not comment publicly on them at the time.
In fact, the JCB recommendation has no force of law until the Supreme Court takes some action to implement it in whole or part. The JCB has mailed its recommendation to Judge Boardman, who has 30 days from the mailing date to appeal the recommendation to the Supreme Court. Judge Boardman intends to file his appeal within the statutory time. [see Supreme Court Rule 11, Review of the Board's disposition report by the Supreme Court]
Meanwhile, Windsor County is making contingency plans in the event that the Supreme Court does, in fact, suspend Judge Boardman from all his duties and the county is then forced to deal with the possibly unintended consequences.
With only one side judge in office, the county would be unable to function lawfully, as all the statutes controlling county government require the concurrence of the side judges - plural, not just one. The issues raised by this prospect would include whether the county could pay its bills, continue with construction projects under way, or create a lawful budget for the coming fiscal year. [For examples, see 4 VSA 116 and 24 VSA 71b-224]
With no Assistant Judge to hear Small Claims cases, that docket would be further stressed by the need to bring in acting judges to hear cases. The Small Claims caseload has almost doubled in the past year, from 162 pending cases in April 2007 to 320 cases in April 2008. The Small Claims docket has grown to about three-quarters the size of the Superior Court docket, which had 431 pending cases as of April 2008. Judge Boardman is the only Windsor County Assistant Judge trained to hear Small Claims cases.
Likewise, he is the only side judge in this county who can hear traffic cases and uncontested divorces, and his suspension would also make both these dockets more burdensome for an already over-burdened Judicial Bureau and Family Court.
Among the elements of Judge Boardman's appeal are likely to be:
· Does the appointed JCB have any authority to remove an elected official from his non-judicial office?
· Why would the JCB think it appropriate to remove a judge from his judicial duties when there is no complaint about his conduct as a sitting judge?
· Why are the JCB's findings of facts riddled with factual errors and invented facts?
· Did the JCB have actual jurisdiction over the behavior in question, some of which was the exercise of free speech under the First Amendment?
· Why does the JCB assert that one side judge can take any action on that judge's sole authority when Vermont Statutes outlining the power and duties of Assistant Judges consistently require joint decisions and actions?
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