Vermont News Briefs

Vermont House Speaker, Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court to speak to the National Press Club

Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Reiber and House Speaker Shap Smith will make an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., this Thursday.

Reiber and Smith will talk about how a state legislature and judiciary can work together to solve fiscal problems.

Vermont’s judiciary system has saved money by consolidating court resources. Smith says the judiciary in Vermont has exercised fiscal restraint and has kept the rate of budget growth down and has reopened the courts on Fridays.

Those gains, however, were counterbalanced by the news that a recently failed IT project cost the state $1.7 million.

Smith, a lawyer, says keeping the courts open is vitally important. “We happen to have someone in a position of leadership who believes the courts are important,” Smith said. “They’re such a fundamental part of the three-legged stool of democracy.”

Austerity measures have hit the judiciary in states around the country. As the National Press Club puts it: “The Great Recession has devastated budgets in many states, threatening the ability of state
courts to uphold basic Constitutional rights. Budget cuts have not been enough—many states
have undergone a complete ‘reengineering’ of the court system to better serve their citizens.”

Smith and Reiber head down to D.C. Wednesday night in advance of the National Press Club talk 9 a.m. Thursday, which features chief justices from Delaware, California and South Carolina. The discussion will be carried by CSPAN. Smith and Reiber will be guests at a dinner Thursday night held by Chief Justice John Roberts for state chief justices from around the country.


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Anne Galloway

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