Vt. Lawyer Appeals Prosecutor Challenge Ruling
11/16/12 4:04PM By Charlotte Albright
In a case that could decide the fates of 20 alleged criminals, a judge has rejected their attorney's claim that the prosecutor was improperly appointed by Governor Peter Shumlin.
Defense Attorney David Sleigh argued that Keith Flynn never resigned from the States Attorney post to which he was elected in 2010. Instead, Flynn became the Commissioner of Public Safety, and Governor Shumlin appointed Alan Franklin as States Attorney.
But Sleigh says the governor has no power to fill a job from which no one formally resigned. So he wants 20 cases brought by Franklin to be dismissed.
Superior Court Judge Howard VanBenthuysen disagrees, ruling that, quote "in the absence of a specific Vermont election statute governing this set of facts, and given that the office of the States Attroney cannot and should not be vacant, that the Governor did, in this case, have the power under the Constitution to appoint Mr. Franklin to assume the new term vacated...."
Sleigh says he is disappointed in that ruling, even though he agrees that it's important to keep the wheels of justice moving.
"Well it is, but it's important to keep them moving forward with a legitimate prosecutor who's been elected, not illegitimately appointed," Sleigh said in response to Friday's decision.
Sleigh says he will appeal the ruling all the way to the Vermont Supreme Court, if necessary.