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Rutland Herald

Friday, July 10, 1998


By Peter Crabtree

Herald Staff

Bennington: Saying the Vermont Supreme Court had

"run amok," businessman John M. Mitchell of OMYA, Inc.

called Thursday for the General Assembly to deny

reappointment to three justices responsible for the

decision that led to Act 60.

At a dinner supported by the Ethan Allen

Institute, Mitchell described the Brigham decision as

"the mother of all idiotic cases" and said Associate

Justices John Dooley, Denise Johnson and James Morse

should be dumped from the court.

"They are dumb or they are lying," Mitchell said

when critiquing the Supreme Court's performance. "Not

a pleasant choice for us citizens to have to make, is


The president of Pluess-Staufer Industries,

Mitchell recently made headlines with his criticism of

Vermont's environmental permit process.

Turning his attention to the Supreme Court,

Mitchell said the justices had usurped the

Legislature's power in a host of controversial

decisions by making laws rather than interpreting


Winning applause from several republican

legislators and candidates who attended the dinner at

the Paradise Restaurant, Mitchell said it was

"critical" for voters to make their dissatisfaction

with the Supreme Court known so as to "stiffen" the

back bones of the law makers who will vote this fall

whether or not to reappoint the justices to six-year


Mitchell said House and Senate members will face

"relentless" pressure from the "looney left" to keep

their hands off the Supreme Court for fear of

supposedly politicizing the reappointment process.

"We have got to educate our fellow citizens

about the folly of the court and about the duty of the

Legislature" said Mitchell. "That august body has

never turned down a Supreme Court justice for

reappointment. But that is not because they ought not

to; it is because they have never had such incompetent

justices before."

Dooley, Johnson and Morse each face a secret

ballot vote of the combined House and Senate. A

simple majority decides whether they are reappointed

to six-year terms.

Representative Walter Freed, R-Dorset, said a

"cloak of secrecy" hung over the process, with most

Vermonters mistakenly believing that state Supreme

Court justices are appointed for life. Freed praised

Mitchell for creating "an awareness" of the issue and

holding "the judicial branch accountable."

John McClaughry, president of the Ethan Allen

Institute, predicted that the campaign to oust the

three justices would be dismissed by the court's

supporters as "some sort of radical, woodchuck


McClaughry argued that the Legislature had a duty

to review whether the justices had acted "in the best

interests of the state." Using that criteria, it is

clear they can be denied reappointment ignoring the

Constitution ... -- a detriment of our government,"

McClaughry said.

In his speech, Mitchell briefly analyzed a

half-dozen cases that he illustrated the Supreme

Court's -- gance and incompetence. Among them was a

case involving a Vermont Marble Company's Electric --

Decision, a subsidiary of Mitchell's company.

Criticizing the Supreme Court for hearing the

case before a trial was held in a lower court,

Mitchell -- out Justice Dooley for writing a doctrine

"that resulted in a -- Vermont Marble.

Mitchell said that if he were elected senator or

representative, he would be outraged by the --

usurpation of the General Assembly's power to write

the state's --. Referring to the Vermont

Constitution, Mitchell said the justices in question

"just do not understand the instruction book."

Said Mitchell, "In the argot -- times: These

guys just don't get it."