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Applicant Ahmed Hamid-Ahmed appealed a Vermont Board of Bar Examiners (Board) denying his application to take the Vermont bar exam. Applicant has a bachelor’s degree with a major in criminal justice and a Master of Laws degree (LLM) from Widener University School of Law. However, he does not have a Juris Doctor (JD) or a substantially equivalent law degree from a foreign or domestic non-approved law school, he has not enrolled in a law office study program, and he has not been admitted to any other bar, foreign or domestic. Despite this, applicant argues that he is eligible to take the bar exam under Vermont Rule of Admission to the Bar 8(c)(4)’s “curing provision” by virtue of his LLM. He further argues that the Board violated his due process rights when it denied his application but did not explicitly notify him of the process for appealing that decision to the Vermont Supreme Court. Because appellant did not meet the requirements outlined in the Vermont Rules of Admission to the Bar, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Ahmed M. Hamid-Ahmed" on Justia Law

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Defendant Victor Pixley was charged with unlawful trespass after he was found in an unoccupied farmhouse. Defendant testified that he was homeless, and he and his friend entered the property looking for a place to sleep. He stated that he entered the property at night and did not see any signs noticing against trespass. Defendant stated that he does not read so he would not have understood the signs in any event. In closing arguments, defendant admitted to entering the land and going into the farmhouse, but he argued that he was not provided with meaningful notice against trespass. Defendant appealed his eventual conviction, arguing the trial court's instruction to the jury on the notice element of the trespass charge amounted to plain error. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Pixley" on Justia Law

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Applicant LK Holdings, LLC appealed the Public Utility Commission’s dismissal of its application for a certificate of public good for a proposed group net-metered photovoltaic electric power system. The Commission dismissed the petition as incomplete because applicant failed to provide notice to adjoining landowners that its application had been filed. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "In re Petition of LK Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Ira Martel appealed the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment on his personal injury claims in favor of his employer, defendant Connor Contracting, Inc., and two co-employees, defendants Jason Clark and Stephen Connor. This case was about two separate exceptions to the exclusivity rule of workers’ compensation, the first of which applied when an employee is injured other than by accident, and the second of which applied when a person or entity could be held personally liable for an employee’s injuries. In August 2013, plaintiff was part of a four-person crew employed by Connor Contracting to perform roof repair work at the Montpelier Health Center. Defendant Jason Clark was the worksite foreperson, and defendant Stephen Connor was the treasurer of Connor Contracting and one of the company owners. While working on the project, plaintiff and the other members of the roofing crew used a personal-fall-arrest system (PFAS), which was safety equipment provided by Connor Contracting and required by the company’s safety program rules, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA). Plaintiff was completing the soffit work when he fell from the edge of the roof, hit the ground below, and was injured. He was not wearing a PFAS at the time he fell. The parties disputed whether a complete PFAS system was still at the project site on that day and available for plaintiff’s use. Connor Contracting disputes the removal of the PFAS and states that defendant Clark left two harnesses and lanyards at the project site. The Vermont Supreme Court held plaintiff’s action against Connor Contracting was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Furthermore, plaintiff’s action against the individual defendants is barred because the acts that plaintiff alleges give rise to liability fell within the scope of a nondelegable corporate duty and defendants, therefore, cannot be held personally liable for plaintiff’s injuries. View "Martel v. Connor Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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In October 2015, the State charged defendant Michael Tobin with aggravated sexual assault based on allegations that defendant had sexually abused his biological son while the child was under the age of thirteen. After a jury trial in December 2016, the jury found defendant guilty. Defendant, on his own and through counsel, made several arguments on appeal. The Vermont Supreme Court understood those arguments as: (1) there was insufficient evidence that the victim was under thirteen years old because the State provided no evidence of the victim’s date of birth; (2) defendant was not properly informed of the charge; (3) there was a Brady violation because the State withheld recordings of witnesses’ statements; (4) defendant’s counsel provided ineffective assistance; (5) the State violated 3 V.S.A. 129a; (6) the case was outside the statute of limitations; (7) his conviction violated the Double Jeopardy Clause and was untimely filed; and (8) the trial court committed plain error in correcting defendant’s sentence when he was not present. The Supreme Court found no reversible errors and affirmed defendant's convictions. View "Vermont v. Tobin" on Justia Law

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Defendant Christian Noll appealed his conviction for stalking, arguing that: (1) the criminal stalking statute, as it existed when he was charged, was facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; (2) application of the statute to his case was unconstitutional; (3) the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to convict him of stalking; (4) the jury instruction allowed the jury to convict based on time-barred acts; and (5) the jury instruction failed to adequately describe the parameters of the true-threat doctrine under the First Amendment. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the criminal stalking statute at the time defendant was charged was facially valid because it included within the definition of stalking only constitutionally unprotected threatening speech. The statute was appropriately applied to defendant because, considering the evidence overall, a jury could conclude that the expression, which formed part of the stalking charge, was constitutionally unprotected threatening speech. However, the Court concluded the jury instruction allowed the jury to convict defendant based solely on acts that occurred outside of the applicable statute of limitations. On this basis, the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. View "Vermont v. Noll" on Justia Law

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This case was presented to the Vermont Supreme Court after a lengthy bench trial between appellants/cross-appellees Kneebinding, Inc. (Kneebinding) and Kneebinding company directors John and Tina Springer-Miller (the Springer-Millers), and appellee/cross-appellant Richard Howell that resulted in a series of interlocutory decisions before final judgment. Kneebinding and the Springer-Millers appealed the trial court’s decisions regarding: (1) a stipulated fine for Howell’s alleged violations of an injunction prohibiting him from speaking in certain settings about Kneebinding or the Springer-Millers; (2) termination of the injunction; (3) other contempt sanctions for Howell’s alleged violations of the injunction; (4) defamation damages; (5) Kneebinding’s claim of tortious interference with contract; and (6) attorney’s fees. With respect to their appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings. Howell appealed the trial court’s denial of his third-party shareholder derivative and direct claims against the Springer-Millers for fraud in the inducement and various alleged breaches of fiduciary duties. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment on these claims. View "Kneebinding, Inc. v. Howell" on Justia Law

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The State appealed a Vermont Labor Relations Board decision interpreting a collective bargaining agreement between the State and the Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA). The question at issue was whether a change made to the agreement’s family-leave provisions in 1999 limited an employee’s right to use more than six weeks of accrued, paid sick leave while on family leave because of the employee’s own serious illness. The Board found that, although the agreement itself was ambiguous, extrinsic evidence showed that the parties did not intend to limit the use of sick leave. The State argued on appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court that the contract was not ambiguous and that the limitation on use of sick leave applies. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the Board. View "In re Grievance of Kobe Kelley" on Justia Law

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In April 2011, having been charged with three felonies and six misdemeanors, petitioner Michael Carpenter pled guilty to one felony: violation of an abuse-prevention order (VAPO), and five misdemeanors as part of a plea agreement. The felony VAPO charge was based on a telephone call petitioner made to his ex-girlfriend in violation of an emergency, ex parte RFA order that, among other things, prohibited petitioner from contacting her. On direct appeal of the sentence, the Vermont Supreme Court rejected petitioner's plain-error argument that the Habitual Offender Act did not authorize enhancing a minimum sentence beyond the underlying offense's statutory minimum. Meanwhile, while his appeal was pending, petitioner filed his first PCR petition, which the PCR court stayed pending resolution of the appeal. After the Supreme Court upheld his sentence on appeal, petitioner filed another PCR that was consolidated with the first. Petitioner sought the same relief on the same grounds in both petitions. Petitioner represented himself at the merits hearing because the Defender General had determined that his claims lacked merit, and the PCR court allowed assigned counsel to withdraw. The first PCR court rejected petitioner's various arguments and denied his petition. Petitioner then filed a second PCR petition which was ultimately dismissed as successive. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, finding petitioner raised a new argument: that the no-contact provision in the ex parte, temporary RFA, which underlay petitioner’s felony VAPO conviction, was invalid, rendering his indictment for violating that order defective. The central question in this appeal was whether the collateral bar rule precluded a challenge to a facially invalid, emergency, ex parte, relief-from-abuse (RFA) order in the context of a prosecution for violation of that order. Arguing that the State did not establish an abuse of the writ, petitioner appealed the dismissal of his second petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). Because the Supreme Court concluded the collateral bar rule applied, it affirmed. View "In re Michael L. Carpenter" on Justia Law

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Defendant Roy Patten was convicted by jury of aggravated sexual assault. In 2013, complainant and her boyfriend moved to Vermont with defendant and defendant’s girlfriend. At first, the two couples lived next to each other in separate trailers, and later they moved into a house with separate apartments. A shared laundry area connected the apartments. In April 2014, defendant’s girlfriend ended their relationship and moved out. In August 2014, complainant called her sister and said she wanted to leave Vermont and that defendant had been hurting her. Complainant’s family came to Vermont to pick her up, and complainant told them that defendant had repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Complainant and her sister then reported the assault to the police. In September 2014, the police arrested defendant and charged him with aggravated sexual assault. On appeal, defendant argues that the court erred (1) in admitting testimony that defendant told complainant he was a sex offender immediately before the first sexual contact in April 2014 and (2) in excluding testimony regarding a masturbation incident in November 2013. He also argues the court erred in finding the masturbation incident was isolated and not part of an ongoing course of conduct. Defendant claims the errors were not harmless and requests that his conviction be reversed. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed defendant's conviction. View "Vermont v. Patten" on Justia Law