United States District Court for the District of Vermont
The United States District Court for the District of Vermont is one of ninety-four United States district courts. When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals based in Lower Manhattan at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Federal Courthouse in the New York City Area.
Vacancy warning level
There are no pending nominations for the United States District Court for the District of Vermont.
Article III judges
|Judge William K. Sessions||1947||Hartford, CT||Clinton||08/11/1995 - Present||2002 - 2010||Fred Parker||Middlebury College, B.A., 1969||George Washington U. Law, J.D., 1972|
|Judge Christina Reiss||1962||Denver, CO||Obama||12/21/2009 - Present||2010 - Present||John Murtha||St. Michael’s College, B.A.||U. of Arizona Law, J.D., 1989|
|Senior Judge John Murtha||Clinton||05/25/1995 - 05/29/2009||1995 - 2002||06/30/2009 - Present||Yale, B.A., 1963||U. of Connecticut Law, LL.B., 1968|
|Magistrate Judge John Conroy||12/22/2008 - Present||Northeastern U.||The New England School of Law, J.D., 1982|
The District of Vermont has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|Federal Court Case Load Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions of the District of Vermont.
| • VT Prison Labor Case (2012) Judge(s):John Murtha, Appealed to: Barrington Parker, Richard Wesley and Robert Katzman|
|On August 3, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned a decision from the District of Vermont, holding that a suit could continue which alleged that the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington violated the Thirteenth Amendment by requiring an individual to work in the laundry room for $0.25 an hour. The suit was filed by Finbar McGarry who alleged that during his time pending trial in the facility, he was forced to work 14 hour shifts, 3 days a week, and was punished with solitary confinement if he refused. He filed the suit a month before his release, requesting $11 million in damages. U.S. District Judge Garvan Murtha threw out the case claiming that McGarry did not prove that the forced work was akin to African American slavery, which the act was originally designed to protect against. The three judge appeals court composed of Robert Katzmann, Richard Wesley and the writing judge Barrington Parker disagreed, writing in their opinion, "The Amendment was intended to prohibit all forms of involuntary labor, not solely to abolish chattel slavery." In addition the court held that McGarry's pretrial status required that the state treat him differently as he was not yet convicted and the charges were later dropped. The case was remanded back to Judge Murtha for further evaluation.|
| • Nuclear plant operation case (2012) Judge(s):John Murtha|
*Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee v. Shumlin 11-cv-99
|In January 2012, Vermont's Attorney General, Bill Sorrell, filed a notice of appeal with United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit over its Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant decision in January. At issue is the state's authority to determine the safety and economic impact of the plant's continued operation. John Murtha, judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, found in favor of the company which runs the plant, Entergy.
Though the Vermont State Senate voted to not allow a twenty year extension granted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal government has jurisdiction over matters of nuclear energy.
In filing the notice, Attorney General Sorrell said, "We have strong arguments to make on appeal. The district court’s decision improperly limits the State’s legitimate role in deciding whether Vermont Yankee should operate in Vermont beyond March 21, 2012."Governor Peter Shumlin agreed with Sorrell's assessment. In a press release, he said that he would continue to work on his administration's authority over the plant. The hearing of appeal was heard on January 15, 2013.
| • Alleged Green Mountain Coffee accounting fraud (2012) Judge(s):William K. Sessions|
|Judge William K. Sessions dismissed a 2012 class action lawsuit filed by shareholders alleging that Green Mountain Coffee Inc. mislead shareholders through accounting fraud. The suit was filed after the company announced that it was being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a $9 million difference in its accounting numbers from 2006 to 2010. The company maintained that the difference constituted a series of small errors and not direct malpractice on their part. Sessions justified his decision, stating, "The fact that the restatement was a collection of several small mistakes, rather than a single, large error, also minimizes any fraudulent reading."|
The District of Vermont was created under the Judiciary Act of 1789 under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Circuit Court. Under the Judiciary Act of 1801, the circuits were reorganized and this court was assigned to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit where it has remained since. Originally created with one judgeship, in a second judgeship was added 1966.
The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Vermont:
|March 02, 1791||1 Stat. 197||1 (District of Vermont)|
|March 18, 1966||80 Stat. 75||2 (1 District)|
Former Chief Judges
In order to qualify for the office of Chief Judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as Chief Judge. A vacancy in the office of Chief Judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The Chief Judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a Chief Judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion.
For more information on the judges of the District of Vermont, see former federal judges of the District of Vermont.
- Vermont District US Courts
- United States Attorney's Office for the District of Vermont
- Judges of the District of Vermont
- Opinions of the District of Vermont
- Offices of the United States Attorneys, Official list
- Reuters, "Appeals court reinstates Vermont prison forced labor case," August 3, 2012
- World Nuclear News, "Vermont Yankee wins right to keep generating," January 20, 2012
- Burlington Free Press, "Vermont appeals court ruling on Yankee nuclear plant," February 18, 2012
- Office of the Vermont Governor, Press Release: "Gov. Shumlin's statement on Attorney General's decision to appeal Vermont Yankee," February 18, 2012
- Bloomberg Law, Legal News: "Vermont Fights Ruling It Can't Shut Entergy Nuclear Plant," January 14, 2013
- Burlington Free Press, "Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against Green Mountain Coffee Roasters," January 30, 2012
- History of the District of Vermont from the Federal Judicial Center
- United States Courts, Frequently Asked Questions
- United States Courts, "On Being Chief Judge," February 2009
|Magistrate judges||John Conroy •|
|Former Article III judges||
Nathaniel Chipman • Samuel Hitchcock • Elijah Paine • Samuel Prentiss • David Allen Smalley • James Oakes • Fred Parker • Hoyt Henry Wheeler • James Loren Martin • Harland Bradley Howe • Franklin Billings • Albert Coffrin • Ernest Gibson • James Holden • James Leamy • Bernard Leddy •
|Former Chief judges|