Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Scot Kline Ceremony Unaffected by Weather

Guests from near and far braved the snow storm and packed the Washington County Courthouse yesterday for the swearing-in ceremony for Scot Kline.  Governor Phil Scott kicked off the ceremony by recounting Scot Kline’s long history with the State, in AG and General Counsel positions.  The Governor joked that he had to appoint Kline because he was running out of agencies to put him in!

Before administering the oath, Governor Scott recounted his 4 C’s in selecting judges: character, competence, commitment and chemistry. He noted that it would not be easy to see Scot Kline leave his branch of government for another.  He found Kline to be thorough, balanced and dependable and remarked that he was committed to his family, an outdoorsman and an athlete.

Former Attorney General Bill Sorrell next spoke and promised to be brief.  Sorrell reminisced about his lectures in China about western legal thought noting how much emphasis was placed upon our US Constitution as the bedrock of the system.  He noted that although he is now an ‘executive branch guy’ and comes from family in the legislative branch, he believes that our system depends most on an independent, competent judiciary as the fundamental interpreter of law. Sorrell actually turned to the Governor when he stated that the judiciary, in certain respects, is the highest branch of government! Speaking about Judge Kline, he praised Kline’s integrity, competence, sense of humor and ability to empathize.  Sorrell stated that he recommended Kline knowing that he would be a fantastic judge, remarking about how he has hired him three times already. 

The final speaker on Judge Kline’s behalf was DFR Commissioner Michael Pieciak, Kline’s most recent boss.  Pieciak joked that he originally was going to start with praising Kline for how he never makes mistakes, but that he could no longer do so since Judge Kline stumbled on a few lines during the recitation of the oath! But in all seriousness, he remarked that Judge Kline’s competency was off the charts, recalling at how quickly he understood complex material.  Kline was also praised for being a great leader and mentor when the DFR needed it most upon hiring him. Pieciak also noted that Kline sets an excellent example at being devoted to his family and to the public.  Finally, in an effort to embarrass Kline for his countless accolades, Pieciak noted that Scot Kline obtained the #1 score in the Ohio CPA exam when he took it.  Pieciak wished him luck and stated that he will miss a great friend in the office. 

Judge Kline gave his round of thanks to all those present, including his wife, Vicki Brown, his three sons, 2 of whom were present, and his in-laws, who lived next store to them for 20 years, as the two families became 4 parents raising 6 kids.  He congratulated his wife on being appointed interim CEO of Vermont Electrical Cooperative.  Judge Kline remarked about how he has worked with so many incredibly talented people over the years that help to mold and shape him, joking that if he were to flop, they’d be responsible for that too!  He promised to defend and support the values and promises set forth in the Constitution, to do equal right and justice and to make litigants feel like they are treated respectfully and fairly.  He stated that time will tell how successful he will be but that he is fully committed to doing the best that he can.

Please enjoy pictures from the event, below.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Congratulations to Newly Appointed Judge Barra

David Barra was sworn in by Governor Phil Scott at the Washington County today, February 21, 2018, on an uncharacteristically warm day.  The thoughtful ceremony was emceed by Montpelier attorney Paul Gillies.  Attorney Gillies opened with some statistics regarding judges sworn in in Vermont over time with a tongue-in-cheek statistic on Judge Barra’s likelihood of becoming a Vt Supreme Court Justice.  He reminded the audience that a judgeship is truly an act of self-sacrifice and noted that David Barra is particularly qualified as he trades in his soccer referee whistle for a gavel.  After all, referees are not loved by either team, nor the spectators, but good referees are indeed respected.  Paul Gillies then stepped aside to allow Governor Scott to give the oath that converts David Barra’s private persona into a public persona of Judge Barra.

Governor Phil Scott next spoke before administering the oath, noting, too that Barra’s experience as a referee is particularly impressive to him, knowing that he has had to deal with a fair share of angry parents. As always, Governor Scott highlighted his 4 C’s in selecting judges: character, competence, commitment and chemistry, noting that chemistry is the hardest to find, but perhaps the most important.  He noted that Judge Barra is more than qualified, showing the proper attitude and the ability to put others first, putting needs ahead of egos.  He then congratulated David Barra on the successes he has earned and administered the oath of office.

Long-time friend and Vermont Soccer State Referee Administrator, Steve Lunna, then spoke.  He noted that the two met over 20 years ago as they joined, aspiring together to be the highest quality referees they could be.  Steve and David refereed over 200 matches a year together, and Steve noted that David Barra had the deepest desire to make correct calls, always studying and noting any obscure rule references to complete his knowledge.  He recalled a story about how David Barra encouraged him to referee for two unknown schools in the midst of their D-1 college refereeing, which ended up being one of the most rewarding referee experiences they’ve ever had. Steve noted that now he has one friend that is a judge, and implored David’s wife, Barbara, to keep him humble. 

Another friend and colleague, VBA President Dan Maguire, next spoke of Judge Barra’s qualifications.  Dan noted that he was extremely nervous to speak because he was so proud of his dear friend.  After remarking that Judge Barra is eminently qualified for the job, especially due to his inherent credibility, he discussed the onerous process in applying for a judgeship.  President Maguire noted how isolating and stressful a judgeship would be, recalling how he had tried to convince David not to give up his freedom and success for the judgeship.  But Judge Barra was undeterred and determined, another quality that was ultimately rewarded with the honor of being selected for the post.

Finally, Judge Barra’s law partner, Stephen Unsworth congratulated his now former partner for this honor.  He described David Barra as a lawyer’s lawyer who acted like a partner from the get go.  He described his partner as someone who had great successes in law and life, playing college soccer and building a rewarding practice, but who also suffered great loss in experiencing the death of a child. These life experiences have given Judge Barra humility, resilience and compassion and had built a man who knew how to be kind and courteous to all. 

Judge Barra then greeted the crowd, humorously noting that this David guy sounded like “some nice guy!” He also joked that this would be the first time he appeared in court without an argument to make.  He thanked all that spoke, and all present, and particularly noted that he and his law partner, Stephen Unsworth, continued to run a successful practice because the two of them were always fully honest with each other and knew they could count on each other to be honest.  With great struggle, Judge Barra spoke eloquently of his deceased daughter who remains with him despite 16 years since her passing.  He also honored and thanked with pride and deep emotion his son, with his wife and two kids who were present, and his beautiful bride, Barbara.

Before the ceremony ended, Judge Barra stated that he sought the judgeship to enable him to utilize his skills to serve Vermont and do the most good.  He promised to continually seek how best to do this job, as it would always be a learning process to seek truth, do justice, have mercy, make a difference, have courage and persist through adversity.  His pledge was to strive every day to justify the trust that has been placed in him.

Please enjoy pictures from the event, below.