Quantcast

Vt. Case Goes to U.S. Supreme Court - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Case Goes to U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Brillon Michael Brillon

Washington, D.C. - October 1, 2008

A career criminal in Vermont was set free after a controversial ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court. Now the United States Supreme Court will decide if that ruling was justified.

In a split decision earlier this year, Vermont justices decided Michael Brillon did not get his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The Vermont Supreme Court threw out the domestic assault conviction and a 12 to 20 year prison term for Michael Brillon. The court determined that it took too long-- three years-- for his case to be tried. The Vermont Supreme Court determined his constitutional rights to a speedy trial were violated.

The split-court decision drew criticism and an appeal from the Bennington County State's Attorney. Erica Marthage claims the lion's share of the delays were caused by Brillon.

"This offender was considered very violent and very high risk," she said. "He was a very difficult client, frequently argumentative with his council and the judge. A number of attorneys he threatened or couldn't work with."

Marthage appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Now the high court has agreed to hear the case.

It's unusual considering just 80 or so cases will go to the U.S. Supreme Court out of thousands and thousands of requests each year.

Four of the nine justices must agree to take it up.

"I suspect in this case that at least four of those justices think that there was something wrong with this decision," said legal expert Cheryl Hanna, of the Vermont Law School.

Hanna says the U.S. Supreme Court will decide if the Vermont court got the speedy trial law wrong, if the law needs clarification, and what responsibility the defendant had in delaying his own trial. But Hanna says it has also become a case about victims' rights and one that will be watched across the country.

"It seemed he was using the criminal justice system to further harass and abuse his victim. This case isn't just important here in Vermont, it's important nationally for the hundreds of cases which defendants may be delaying trials asking attorneys to question victims further to possibly harass that victim," Hanna said.

Hanna and Marthage say the Vermont ruling has had consequences -- giving defendants incentive to try to game the system to get their cases thrown out.

"We've already seen a flurry of people referring to Brillon and why their charges should be dismissed," said Marthage. "To me, what the state is arguing is justified or I wouldn't have gone this far with it."

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case early next year. Its decision will impact how similar cases are handled across the country, what a speedy trial means, and if a defendant has a right to a speedy trial if he or she tries to delay it.

Cheryl Hanna says State's Attorney Erica Marthage has a good chance of winning and that the law is on her side.

If Marthage wins, it means Michael Brillon goes back to jail.

Darren Perron - WCAX News

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Fire destroys Alburgh home

    Fire destroys Alburgh home

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:35 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:35:40 GMT
    Fire tore through a home in Alburgh last night.Firefighters responded to a house fully engulfed in flames at 16 Wagner Point. 
    Fire tore through a home in Alburgh last night.Firefighters responded to a house fully engulfed in flames at 16 Wagner Point. 
  • Location set for Allen Prue trial

    Location set for Allen Prue trial

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:37 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:37:52 GMT
    A final location has been determined for the trial of Allen Prue.
    A final location has been determined for the trial of Allen Prue.
  • 3 arrested in burglary-shop-drug scheme

    3 arrested in burglary-shop-drug scheme

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:06 AM EDT2014-07-22 14:06:05 GMT
    Vermont State Police have arrested three people stemming from numerous burglaries from homes and selling them to a consignment shop in exchange for drugs.
    Vermont State Police have charged three people in connection with burglaries at several homes in which the stolen items were swapped for drugs at a consignment shop.
  • NH town hopes for answers after missing teen returns

    NH town hopes for answers after missing teen returns

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:16 AM EDT2014-07-22 14:16:49 GMT
    Residents of a New Hampshire town who searched, prayed and held vigils for a 15-year-old girl who disappeared while on her way home from school nine months ago are relieved she's returned, but they want to know...
    Residents of a New Hampshire town who searched, prayed and held vigils for a 15-year-old girl who disappeared while on her way home from school nine months ago are relieved she's returned, but they want to know what...
  • Air defense drill for 4 Northeastern states

    Air defense drill for 4 Northeastern states

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:57 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:57:27 GMT
    The New York state Division of Military and Naval Affairs says a two fighter jets from a Massachusetts Air National Guard unit will be conducting an air defense exercise over parts of four Northeastern states.
    The New York state Division of Military and Naval Affairs says a two fighter jets from a Massachusetts Air National Guard unit will be conducting an air defense exercise over parts of four Northeastern states.
  • Recreational projects funded for Adirondacks

    Recreational projects funded for Adirondacks

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:58 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:58:58 GMT
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced funding for several projects to expand and improve outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks.
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced funding for several projects to expand and improve outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks.
  • Vermont loon count gauging health of bird

    Vermont loon count gauging health of bird

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 9:54 AM EDT2014-07-22 13:54:07 GMT
    Experts estimate there are nearly 300 adult loons living on Vermont's lakes and ponds, up from just a couple dozen 30 years ago.
    Experts estimate there are nearly 300 adult loons living on Vermont's lakes and ponds, up from just a couple dozen 30 years ago.
  • Do Good Festival raises $11,000 for cancer center

    Do Good Festival raises $11,000 for cancer center

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:40 AM EDT2014-07-22 14:40:06 GMT
    Officials at Montpelier's National Life Group say the inaugural Do Good Festival held on the grounds of the company's headquarters raised almost $11,000 for a cancer treatment center at the area hospital.
    Officials at Montpelier's National Life Group say the inaugural Do Good Festival held on the grounds of the company's headquarters raised almost $11,000 for a cancer treatment center at the area hospital.
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.