To the editor: Environmental Court needs to keep court manager post funded

During a meeting of the Environmental Court bench and the Vermont Bar Association on Wednesday Jan. 14, 2015, the bar learned that the Supreme Court has decided not to refill the Environmental Court manager position when the incumbent retires in February. The judiciary is making this staffing decision as part of its contribution toward cutting the state budget.

This cut will seriously harm the function of the Environmental Court. Like the rest of the judiciary, the Environmental Court is already very stretched. The Environmental Court’s primary duty is the resolution of permit appeals. The court manager performs the vital function of making sure cases stay on schedule and are resolved as expeditiously as possible.

If the incumbent is not replaced, Judges Thomas Durkin and Thomas Walsh will be forced to spend more time managing court staff and schedules. With less time to consider legal issues, and less time for hearings, permits will be unnecessarily delayed. This will inevitably slow our economy and suppress job growth.

Legislative priorities appear to be the root cause of the problem. Even as the economy grows and the budget grows, the judiciary has been asked to function with less than it needs. The legislature needs to change priorities. Please ask your legislators to fund the Environmental Court manager’s position in the budget adjustment process.

Please act now as the legislature will complete this process later this month. Also please ask the legislature to place a priority on funding the judiciary. Good times and bad, disputes happen. When judgeships and other positions are not filled, cases don’t go away; they go unresolved. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Very truly yours,

Jon Anderson
Burak Anderson & Melloni, PLC

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  1. Claudio Veliz says:

    What percentage of Environmental Court decisions goes to appeal anyway? The answer to that question should be a central driver toward a rational decision on the matter. If most/all are appealed, perhaps elimination of the Environmental Court would be the more expeditious action to secure the desired goals.