Douglas undecided on Supreme Court nominee

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says it may be several months before he makes a nomination to fill a vacancy on the Vermont Supreme Court. The vacancy occurred when Justice James Morse stepped down from the court in January to become the commissioner of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

The Rutland Herald has reported that the state’s Judicial Nominating Board has forwarded a list of six candidates to the governor. The list includes four judges: Matthew Katz, Dean Pineles, Mary Miles Teachout, and Francis McCaffery. Two lawyers are also up for consideration: Stephen Saltonstall of Bennington and Richard Cassidy of Burlington.

If Douglas doesn’t want to nominate anyone on the list, he can ask the Board to submit a new slate of candidates. The governor says the process has been delayed because his administration has been busy reviewing dozens of new laws passed by the Legislature. Douglas says it’s too early to tell if he will appoint any of these applicants:

(Douglas) “I’m not ready to give you an answer on that. That obviously is a key decision to be made at some point in the near future and I’m just not sure at this point.”

(Host) Douglas says it’s possible that the vacancy won’t be filled until after the summer:

(Douglas) “It would have been good to have it filled already, I’m sure, because Justice Morse stepped down early in the calendar year. But I want to make sure I make the right decision, not just a quick decision. And so it might take more time.”

(Host) Douglas says the next step is for his legal staff to review the written decisions of the judges and the writing samples of the lawyers.

Former Chief Justice Frederick Allen has been called back on a temporary basis so that all cases before the court can be heard by five justices.

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