Criminal Justice

Defense Lawyer Moves to Dismiss 20 Cases, Says Prosecutor Not Lawfully Appointed By Vt. Governor

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A criminal defense attorney has filed a motion seeking the dismissal of 20 criminal cases, contending that the state lacks authority to prosecute the defendants because the Orleans County state’s attorney was unlawfully appointed by the Vermont governor.

Attorney David Sleigh says State’s Attorney Alan Franklin does not hold a valid appointment from Gov. Peter Shumlin because a special election should have been held to fill the prosecutor’s job, according to the Associated Press.

Under state law, the governor has the power to appoint a prosecutor to fill a vacancy created when a state’s attorney resigns or dies in office, explains the article, which relies on information from the Caledonian-Record.

But Franklin’s predecessor, former State’s Attorney Keith Flynn, was re-elected and then, before taking the oath of office for his new term, was appointed by Shumlin to serve as commissioner of the Department of public safety. Hence, Sleigh says, the conditions under which an appointment can be made by the governor didn’t exist.

Franklin declined to comment when contacted by the Caledonian-Record, and Secretary of State Jim Condos says Vermont will file a response to Sleigh’s motion.

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