Board prepares slate of Supreme Court nominees

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(Host) The 11 members of the state’s Judicial Nominating Board are making some important decisions that will have an enormous impact on the future direction of Vermont’s Supreme Court.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The Nominating Board is holding interviews this week with a group of candidates who have applied to the fill the position of chief justice of the court. It’s a vacancy that occurred when former Chief Justice Jeffery Amestoy stepped down in August.

The entire process is secret. The names of the applicants are never publicly released and the list of candidates that the board ultimately sends the governor is kept under wraps. But board Chairwoman Peg Flory is saying that earlier news accounts that suggested that only a few people applied for the post are not true:

(Flory) “There were a good number of applications, I can’t tell you how many. I was pleased with the number and I think there are a lot of good candidates that applied.”

(Kinzel) Flory says all of the board’s work should be completed by the end of this week:

(Flory) “But we will make the decision Thursday on who is qualified and goes up to the governor. So the governor will have the list Friday.”

(Kinzel) Governor Douglas says, all things being equal, he’d like to appoint a person as chief justice who has some judicial experience. Flory says this isn’t a factor that the board will consider during its evaluation process.

(Flory) “I think what the governor usually looks for, hopefully, is a well rounded bench for our committee. That’s not our job to decide, ‘Oh, the court is missing a trial judge up there so that’s going to be our job.’ That just isn’t our role. Our role is candidates who have a good legal mind, write well, have good administrative skills, can convey their ideas to the public, have the temperament to be able to do that type of work and be able to deal with that type of isolation.”

(Kinzel) After the governor receives the list, he’ll schedule interviews with each of the candidates. Douglas says he hopes to make the appointment before the November election.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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