§457. Participation and availability of assistant judges

Link to law: http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/section/04/010/00457
Published: 2015

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457. Participation and availability of assistant judges

(a) Application.

This section shall apply in all proceedings in which the family court consists

of one presiding judge and two assistant judges.

(b) Questions of

law and fact. In all proceedings, questions of law shall be decided by the

presiding judge. Mixed questions of law and fact shall be deemed to be

questions of law. The presiding judge alone shall decide which are questions of

law, questions of fact, and mixed questions of law and fact. Written or oral

stipulations of fact submitted by the parties shall establish the facts related

therein, except that the presiding judge, in his or her discretion, may order a

hearing on any stipulated fact. Neither the decision of the presiding judge

under this subsection nor participation by an assistant judge in a ruling of

law shall be grounds for reversal unless a party makes a timely objection and

raises the issue on appeal.

(c) Availability

of assistant judges. If two assistant judges are not available, the court shall

consist of one presiding judge and one assistant judge. If neither assistant

judge is available, the court shall consist of the presiding judge alone, and

the unavailability of an assistant judge shall not constitute reversible error.

(d) Mistrial. In

the event that court is being held by the presiding judge and one assistant

judge, and they do not agree on a decision, a mistrial shall be declared. If

the case is retried, the court shall consist of the presiding judge alone or

the presiding judge and two assistant judges.

(e) Method of

determining availability. Before commencing a hearing in any matter in which

the court by law may consist of the presiding judge and assistant judges, the

assistant judges shall determine whether they are available for the case. A

schedule of proceedings in family court in which the assistant judges by law

may participate shall be made available sufficiently in advance to give

assistant judges reasonable opportunity to determine in which cases they will

participate. If two or more cases are being heard at one time, and assistant

judges may by law participate in either, each assistant judge may determine in

which case he or she will participate.

(f) Duty to

complete hearing or trial. After an assistant judge has decided to participate

in a hearing or trial, the assistant judge shall not withdraw therefrom except

for cause. However, if an assistant judge is not available for a scheduled

hearing or trial or becomes unavailable during trial, the matter may continue without

that assistant judge's participation, and he or she may not return to


(g) Emergency

relief. A presiding judge may hear a petition for emergency relief when the

court is not sitting, and may issue temporary orders as necessary. (Added 1989,

No. 221 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Oct. 1, 1990.)