Vermont Supreme Court coming to Newfane this week
NEWFANE -- Vermont's Supreme Court justices are taking a road trip.
The appeals court is scheduled hear arguments at the Windham Superior Court Civil Division courthouse in Newfane starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6.
The public is invited to witness the proceedings, which are part of an "annual custom" of the Supreme Court to travel outside its Montpelier courtroom.
"The visits are intended to promote awareness of the court and demonstrate its accountability to justice and the public," said Linda Richard, director of planning and court services.
The Supreme Court annually travels to Vermont Law School in the spring, giving students a chance to hear appeal arguments.
But the justices also visit counties around Vermont each fall. Over the past decade, the court has heard cases in Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Franklin, Orange, Rutland, Windham and Windsor counties.
The court last traveled to Newfane in September 2009.
"While hearings of the Vermont Supreme Court are open to the public, it can be difficult for persons outside of central Vermont to make the trip to Montpelier," Richard said in an e-mail to the Reformer.
"This event provides a unique opportunity to observe the state's highest tribunal and see an important part of our democratic process at work," she added.
All five Supreme Court justices are expected at the proceedings. That includes new Justice Geoffrey Crawford, who was sworn in Oct. 16.
Local legislators have been invited to the session, Richard said.
"We also have at least one school group who has committed to attend, and that is the Stratton Mountain School," she said. "There is a question-and-answer session with members of the court, so that's a great learning experience."
Richard said the court considers "the geographic location of attorneys and parties" when selecting cases to be heard in other counties.
"The court also tries to select cases that will be of interest to the local community," she said.
For Wednesday's session in Newfane, there are six cases scheduled for oral argument. Court officials provided a summary of each case:
-- PH West Dover Property LLC vs. Barbara Walowit Realty (10 a.m.; 30-minute hearing).
Purchasers of a West Dover inn argue that the trial court erred when it concluded that the sellers' real-estate agent did not need to disclose a statement allegedly made by another buyer that the inn's roof was unsound and that she had witnessed flooding and mold in the basement.
The purchasers also argue that the court erred in finding that they would have been in no better position had the agent disclosed an estimate for roof repairs that had been prepared before the sale.
-- Buxton vs. Springfield Lodge No. 679, Loyal Order of Moose Inc., et al. (10:30 a.m.; 60-minute hearing).
An injured guest argues that the lodge's governor should be personally liable for injuries resulting from a brawl by patrons at a New Year's Eve party hosted by the lodge.
-- Ugo Quazzo vs. State of Vermont Department of Taxes (11:30 a.m.; 30-minute hearing).
The appellant contends that he is a resident of Vermont and not New York, as the commissioner and trial court found, and that the trial court misapplied Vermont tax statutes and regulations and therefore failed to make adequate findings of fact.
-- Paine vs. Buffa (1:30 p.m.; 30-minute hearing).
A mother argues that the family division court improperly awarded sole legal custody of the parties' children to their father based on the mother's proposed relocation to Georgia. The mother also appeals the family court's award of the marital home to her contingent upon an $85,000 lien representing the father's share of the property.
-- Faye Ainsworth vs. Chandler Electric/Charles Chandler vs. Concord Group Insurance and Campbell & Byd Insurance Services (2 p.m.; 30-minute hearing).
These consolidated cases stem from alleged injuries suffered when the plaintiff tripped over a coil of wires placed near the stairs at a business. The plaintiff argues that the business was liable to her because she was a business patron rather than a social guest, and Chandler Electric argues that its insurer did not provide adequate coverage for the claim.
-- Beauchesne vs. Hale Mountain Fish & Game Club (2:30 p.m.; 30-minute hearing).
Neighbors challenge whether the Shaftsbury club obtained adequate zoning permits for improvements made to its property.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
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