John Murtha

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John Murtha
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of Vermont
Title:   Senior Judge
Position:   Seat #1
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   05/25/1995 - 05/29/2009
Chief:   1995 - 2002
Senior:   06/30/2009 - Present
Preceded by:   Franklin Billings
Succeeded by:   Christina Reiss
Personal History
Born:   1941
Hometown:   Hartford, CT
Undergraduate:   Yale, B.A., 1963
Law School:   U. of Connecticut Law, LL.B., 1968
Grad. School:   Georgetown U. Law, L.L.M., 1970

John Garvan Murtha is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Vermont. He joined the court in 1995 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. He served as Chief Judge between 1995 and 2002, before assuming senior status on June 30, 2009.[1] Prior to his Federal appointment, Murtha was in private practice in Brattleboro, Vermont.[2]

Early life and education

Murtha graduated from Yale with his undergraduate degree in 1963 and later graduated from Connecticut (UConn) Law with his Bachelor of Laws in 1968. Later, he graduated from Georgetown Law with his Master of Laws in 1970.[3]

Professional career

After law school, Murtha became a Deputy State's Attorney for Windham County from 1970 to 1973 and later became a private practice attorney licensed in Vermont from 1973 to 1995.[3]

Judicial career

District of Vermont

Murtha was nominated by President Bill Clinton on June 30, 1995 to a seat vacated by Franklin Billings as Billings assumed senior status.[4] Murtha was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 25, 1995 and received commission on May 26, 1995.[4] Murtha served as the Chief Judge of the District of Vermont from 1995 to 2002.

Notable cases

VT Prison Labor Case (2012)

  United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
On August 3, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned the lower court decision and held that a suit could continue which alleged that the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington, Vermont violated the 13th 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.[5]

Nuclear plant operation case (2012)

  United States District Court for the District of Vermont
     *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.[6]

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."[7]

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.[8] The hearing of appeal was heard on January 15, 2013.[9]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Franklin Billings
District of Vermont
Succeeded by:
Christina Reiss

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