(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says he may ask the state’s Judicial Nominating Board to provide him with another list of candidates to fill the current vacancy on the Vermont Supreme Court. Douglas says the board rejected a number of very qualified candidates for the vacancy and he thinks the board has inappropriately limited his options in this case.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The governor made it very clear at a Montpelier news conference that he feels the process to select a new Supreme Court justice is broken and needs to be fixed. When a vacancy occurs, several dozen lawyers and sitting judges usually apply for the position. These applications are reviewed by the state’s Judicial Nominating Board and then the board sends a list to the governor of the candidates it deems to be qualified for the post.
In this case, there were over 30 applicants to fill the vacancy and the board sent the names of six people to Douglas. Douglas is disappointed that the Board “weeded out” a number of qualified candidates:
(Douglas) “I don’t like the process as it’s been played out in this case. The Judicial Nominating Board has a responsibility to determine which candidates are qualified and which are not qualified. And again, based on what I read in the media, they are a lot of applicants who I find hard to believe are not qualified, who were not advanced by the board. So it is a difficult decision and I want to make sure I make the right one.”
(Kinzel) Douglas does have the option of sending the names back to the board and requesting a new list of candidates. Former Governor Howard Dean used this procedure before naming then Attorney General Jeffery Amestoy as the chief justice of the Court. This is an option that Douglas is seriously considering:
(Douglas) “This is a very important appointment. It’s one that’s going to last longer than probably any other appointment I’ll make and I want to be sure it’s the right choice so I’m reviewing all the options and I’ll make a decision.”
(Kinzel) Douglas is expected to make a decision about his next step in this process in the very near future.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.