Bennington County judge will keep her job

03/20/08 5:05PM By Ross Sneyd

(Host) A Bennington County judge whose performance has been harshly criticized by the local state's attorney will keep her job for another six years.

The vote in the Legislature on Judge Katherine Hayes' tenure was unusually close - 95-to-73.

Critics were led by Bennington prosecutor Erica Marthage, who criticized Hayes for her courtroom demeanor, and for allowing her personal beliefs to interfere with her work.

Representative Willem Jewett says the committee that reviewed whether judges should be retained watched recordings of Hayes' performance.

(Jewett) ``I've got to say if we had reviewed this judge without that DVD evidence, I think we would be much less inclined to recommend her retention. That DVD evidence was what, in fact, made us feel comfortable with this judge in recommending her for retention.''

(Host) But some legislators weren't satisfied. Bennington County Senator Richard Sears says he couldn't dismiss the concerns that the state's attorney raised.

(Sears) ``I'm going to vote no. I've come to that conclusion after a lot of thought and talking to a lot of people. And that was a very difficult decision for me to come to. But I'm very concerned about the message that we're sending.''

(Host) There was a lot less debate on the other five judges. All of them were confirmed for new six-year terms.

They included Judge Amy Davenport, who is the chief administrative judge for the state's trial courts.

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