Justice Johnson To Retire From Vermont’s Highest Court

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(Host) Vermont’s first woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice is stepping down after 20 years on the bench.

Justice Denise Johnson was appointed in 1990 by then Governor Madeleine Kunin, the first woman to be elected governor in Vermont.

Johnson says Kunin’s appointment immediately put her in the spotlight:

(Johnson) "I had to work really hard to demonstrate that her confidence in me – in choosing me – wasn’t misplaced."

(Host) Johnson says 20 years is a long time to be on the bench, and she now wants to explore new opportunities.

(Johnson) "It’s just time to do something different. I’m interested in doing some international rule of law projects."

(Host) Johnson is a former Chair of the Vermont Human Rights Commission.

She won’t point to any one decision she’s most proud of in her years on the court, but she says she’s worked hard to ensure non-biased treatment for women and minorities in Vermont’s legal system.

Johnson also says she’ll miss her colleagues.

(Johnson) "The court is very collegial and it’s a great working relationship especially over the last few years as we’ve worked on the restructuring project in the Legislature and I will miss each and every one of them."

(Host) Johnson will step down at the end of August. That gives Governor Peter Shumlin the chance to appoint his administration’s first justice to the state’s highest court.


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