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Vermont Supreme Court

Pro Government
Total Judgeships: 

5 (0 vacancies)

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DNA Statute Struck Down as Unconstitutional

Fri, 07/11/2014

Vermont v. Medina: Vermont changed its DNA-database statute to require that if probable cause is established, a suspect can be mandated to participate in warrant-less DNA collection and analysis. Defendants filed suit against this statute on the grounds that it violates their rights as an unconstitutional search and seizure.


The Supreme Court of Vermont ruled in favor of the defendants, affirming the decision of the lower courts that the statute is unconstitutional. The Court deemed that it violated defendants’ right to privacy and protection against warrantless search and seizure. The Court emphasized, however, that their decision is clearly in reference to the statute’s relationship with the state constitution, not the United States Constitution.

Read the full decision here

Strict Negligence Needed for Animal Attacks

Fri, 06/13/2014

Martin v. Christman: The Martins and Christmans were in neighboring campsites when the Martins approached the Christmans with their 3-year-old daughter asking permission to pet the Christmans' dogs. The dogs were tied up securely and the Christmans gave the Martins permission to pet the dogs. One dog attacked the child, causing severe injuries. The Martins filed suit for negligence damages against the Christmans.


The Supreme Court of Vermont ruled in favor of the Christmans on the basis that the State law precedent requires proof of strict negligence on the side of the animal owner. Since the Christmans had their dogs tied up, had no reason to suspect that their dog would attack the child, and had acted overall responsibly in the circumstances, the Christmans are not liable for the action of their dog.

Read the full decision here

Can a Divorce lead to Split Custody over Pets?

Fri, 04/25/2014

Hament v. Baker: The two parties, while getting a divorce, were able to adequately divide up all of their assets and belongs, with the exception of Belle, their 11-year-old German wirehaired pointer. Both have a strong affection for the dog. The lower courts ruled that ownership belongs to the husband because, although both parties would provide a good home, the husband’s lifestyle is more based in a routine that the dog is familiar with. The wife appealed on the basis that she should have gotten split visitation and custody rights.


The Supreme Court of Vermont ruled that since Belle is an animal, not a child, parties cannot be granted split custody and visitation rights. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the lower courts to award Belle to the husband.

Read the full decision here