Law Enforcement

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chittenden Democrats Nominate Three to Succeed Donovan

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 10:53 AM

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan
The Chittenden County Democratic Party chose three potential successors to State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan on Thursday night. The list will be sent to governor-elect Phil Scott, who will appoint a person to serve the remaining two years of Donovan’s term.

The list includes two of Donovan’s deputy prosecutors, Bram Kranichfeld and Sarah George, as well as Colchester attorney Ted Kenney, according to outgoing party chair Cameron Russell. The final tally has not been released, but Russell said that Kranichfeld was the top vote-getter, followed by Kenney and then George.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

U.S. Attorney’s Office Adds a Civil Rights Prosecutor

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 12:37 PM

U.S. Attorney Eric Miller, at podium - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • FIle: Mark Davis
  • U.S. Attorney Eric Miller, at podium
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Burlington has hired a new prosecutor who will focus on enforcing civil rights laws.

Julia Torti, a Vermont native who worked as a civil rights attorney in New York, is one of 34 new assistant U.S. attorneys that the U.S. Department of Justice is hiring across the country to enforce laws against discrimination.

The Vermont office said it secured one of the positions through a competitive application process.

“Aggressive protection of the civil rights of the residents of Vermont is a top priority for the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Eric Miller said in a prepared statement. “The Department and this U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to a level playing field for all Vermont residents, promoting equal opportunity for Vermonters, and educating the public about their rights and responsibilities under federal civil rights laws.”

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Scott Likely to Appoint Chittenden County State’s Attorney

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 4:46 PM

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan
Updated at 5:13 p.m. with a statement from Scott spokesman Jason Gibbs.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has taken some heat for declaring that he will appoint a replacement for retiring Vermont Supreme Court Justice John Dooley, who will formally leave the bench months after Shumlin surrenders the keys to the governor’s office to Republican Phil Scott.

There will apparently be no such controversy in replacing another pivotal legal position — Chittenden County state’s attorney.

T.J. Donovan, who currently holds that office, will be sworn in as Vermont’s new attorney general in January, two years before his term in Chittenden County expires. There had been whispers that Donovan could officially resign his current position in the coming weeks, affording Shumlin, a fellow Democrat, the chance to name his replacement.

But in an interview with Seven Days, Donovan said he won’t do that.

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Haunted by Shooting, State’s Attorney to Accept Heroism Award

Posted By on Fri, Nov 18, 2016 at 11:25 AM

Scott WIlliams - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Scott WIlliams
Originally published at 9:53 a.m.

When Scott Williams steps up to accept a Carnegie Hero Fund Commission medal on Monday morning at the Statehouse in Montpelier, he will appreciate the gesture and be grateful for the acknowledgement. But make no mistake, the 52-year-old Navy veteran will be incredibly uneasy.

“I didn’t save Lara,” he said.

The Carnegie medal will recognize Williams for what he did do on a Friday afternoon in August 2015.

Jody Herring, a 40-year-old Barre woman who’d lost custody of her 9-year-old daughter, allegedly laid in wait in the parking lot of a Barre state office building and gunned down state social worker Lara Sobel, 48. Earlier, Herring allegedly killed three family members in Berlin.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Seven Questions for Burlington's New Opioid Policy Coordinator

Posted By on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 7:52 PM

Jackie Corbally speaking Thursday - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Jackie Corbally speaking Thursday
On Thursday morning Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced a citywide effort to create a comprehensive, data-driven response to the opiate crisis.

Speaking to the press at Burlington City Hall, Weinberger announced the hiring of opioid policy coordinator Jackie Corbally, who will fill a new position working as a public health adviser for the Burlington Police Department and managing opiate-response efforts across departments and organizations.

The announcement followed a gathering of more than 40 government officials, nonprofit leaders and medical workers in the first meeting of a new initiative called CommunityStat. The model will emphasize data collection, coordinated approach and rapid follow-up. Weinberger called the initiative a "a new front in the city's response to the opiate challenge that is gripping the city."

Later, Seven Days met with Corbally in her office in the Burlington Police Department to discuss the details and challenges of her work. The conversation was edited for clarity and brevity.

Seven Days: How does your background qualify you for this position?
Jackie Corbally: First and foremost, I'm a social worker. And I've been a social worker for 30 years. Social work is about community change and it's about teaming and it's about working with various partners. I've worked at Spectrum. I've worked at the Baird Center. I've done internships with the state hospital; I've worked for Women Helping Battered Women. I feel like my career has been really varied. I worked for the Health Department's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program for 10 years. [Most recently] I went back and was a clinician on the ground because I had to get back to my roots and have some really real conversations with the people who were in the throes of addiction.

SD: What are the initial steps you'll take as opioid policy coordinator?
JC:
I think we started today, by bringing community partners around the table [and] beginning to have some really hard and honest conversation about what we're doing well and what we're not doing well and recognizing where the barriers are and how we need to knock those down. Secondarily, working with the police department ... providing education and support to the department.

SD: What is the data you'll be collecting and how do you plan to apply that to your work?
JC:
When we demonstrated the data we had today ... it was clear there were holes. What we're hoping is that the data will show where we're having success in the city and where we're not. Are people able to get housing in a timely manner? Are people able to get treatment? One thing we know about addiction is, when the person's ready to make the life change, you have got to be there to offer the services. If you delay, there's the potential you're going to lose them.

SD: What kind of on-the-ground changes can the public expect to see, in terms of the police department's response and the city's approach?
JC:
The police department's response is tying folks into assessments. Folks might come in and we hook them up with somebody who can give them an assessment within 24 hours to move them along their treatment path. Someone who has been arrested, someone who just comes to the police department and needs help. We're just in the beginning and this is going to evolve.

When we do this, when we get to a place where we're operating at full capacity, this will be a really vibrant place where the community can access treatment, can access the prevention that they need. If we're doing it the right way, there won't be any silos. The systems will be talking to each other as one and be able to augment the services in a timely fashion.

SD: How will you determine your metrics for success?
JC:
We are just deciding that. Today was the first conversation with the community partners around what are the data elements that they're collecting in their agencies; where are the gaps. Now we're taking it back and doing a debrief next week and then we'll make a measure of that.

SD: Holistic opiate treatment involves a lot of different components including health care, housing, et cetera. What impact do you see this initiative having on the community as a whole or in other areas long-term?
JC: I think first and foremost, we look at this disease as a chronic health disease. Meaning that you just don't go and get treatment for six weeks and then you're better. Another thing is to recognize that this disease is based in shame and humiliation. Having a level of understanding that you don't choose this.

When we talk about opiate addiction, it's more than just someone committing crime, or somebody losing their children. It's a chronic health disease. It changes the brain structure, and it takes time when somebody engages in recovery to get to a place where they're fully functioning.

SD: What have you seen as the biggest gap in the cooperation or coordination in the programs across Burlington?
JC:
The system is really stretched right now. It really is, when you have a 50-person caseload, and you have a person who has done criminal behavior ... You've also got someone who's suicidal and kids who are being taken away. These folks are just really overwhelmed. Part of it is just how can we alleviate that burden.

We need to norm the data. I can promise you that the people in the community are like, 'I'm dealing with people right now, I don't have time for that.' What we're trying to do ... is to shift the lens. Data can be a fantastic tool, but you've got to invest in it.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Seven Questions for Journalist and Activist Shaun King

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Shaun King - COURTESY OF SHAUN KING
  • Courtesy of Shaun King
  • Shaun King
New York Daily News senior justice writer Shaun King has emerged as a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement and a must-read on criminal justice issues. King was also a vocal supporter of Bernie Sanders during the Vermont senator’s presidential campaign.

King spoke with Seven Days ahead of a talk he is scheduled to give at Middlebury College on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Mead Chapel. The conversation was edited for clarity and brevity.

Seven Days: Has this election season made the national conversation about race and police better or worse?
Shaun King:
I would probably say worse. It hasn’t helped it. The few times the presidential candidates have talked about it, it’s been a pretty one-dimensional conversation. For most mainstream Democrats and virtually all Republicans, law enforcement and their families and supporters are still a part of their voting base and they refuse to talk tough about it. We’ve struggled to get these presidential candidates to talk about it in any serious way, but that’s no different than any mainstream issue right now. It’s just been an ugly race altogether. I hear a lot of activists say we’re all looking forward to the presidential race being over because we feel like it dominates the news cycle in so many ways that the country will be able to talk about more substance.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Vermont ACLU Argues KKK Fliers Are Protected Speech

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 6:59 PM

William D. Schenk - BURLINGTON POLICE
  • Burlington Police
  • William D. Schenk
The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed paperwork with the Vermont Supreme Court opposing the prosecution of a man accused of leaving Ku Klux Klan recruitment fliers at the homes of two minority women in Burlington last year.

The ACLU, in an amicus brief, said William D. Schenk should not be prosecuted because "the government seeks to punish Schenk based solely on the content of his speech." 

Schenk, 22, pleaded no contest in April to two misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct on the condition that he could appeal a judge's decision to not dismiss the charges. A hearing at the Vermont Supreme Court has not been scheduled.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Howard Center Had No Contact With Accused Wrong-Way Driver

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 6:14 PM

Steven Bourgoin is wheeled into his arraignment at the UVM Medical Center Friday morning. - GLENN RUSSELL/BURLINGTON FREE PRESS
  • Glenn Russell/Burlington Free Press
  • Steven Bourgoin is wheeled into his arraignment at the UVM Medical Center Friday morning.
The Howard Center on Monday said it was never contacted to evaluate Steven Bourgoin in the hours before he was involved in a head-on crash that killed five teens, contradicting previous statements from law enforcement officials.

Initial law enforcement statements indicated that the mental health provider was called after Bourgoin, 36, of Williston, showed up at an emergency room hours before the fatal collision.

But in a statement released Monday afternoon, the Howard Center said that an internal investigation, including a review of phone and electronic records and interviews with staffers, showed that it was "not contacted to evaluate, assess, or screen this individual on the day of the crash nor at any other time prior to this incident."

The statement said that Bourgoin was not a Howard Center client, and that no organization had sent the Howard Center a referral on his behalf.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Prosecutors: Deputy’s Fatal Shooting of Winooski Man Was Justified

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 1:26 PM

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan speaks as police listen. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan speaks as police listen.
Updated at 5:58 p.m.

A sheriff's deputy who fatally shot a Winooski man after a brief foot chase last month will not face criminal charges, Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan announced Thursday.

Franklin County Deputy Nicholas Palmier, 31, was legally justified in shooting Jesse Beshaw because Beshaw refused to show his hands and approached Palmier in an “aggressive manner,” Donovan said during a press conference.

A police investigation found that Beshaw, 29, told the deputy words “to the effect of, ‘I’ll pull a gun out,’” according to Donovan.

“I’ll shoot you! I will shoot you!” Palmier warned Beshaw.

Beshaw responded, “Let’s get it,” and later said, “Do it, do it,” as he approached Palmier with his right hand behind his back.

“This is an intense moment and I can’t speak as to what Mr. Beshaw was thinking at that time,” Donovan said. “When you say you have a gun and you indicate you have a gun and you advance on an officer who has shouted commands to stop … it raises real questions as to what he’s thinking at that moment.”

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Prosecutor: No Charges in Waterbury Daycare Drowning

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 5:28 PM

Washington County State's Attorney Scott Williams speaking to reporters - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Washington County State's Attorney Scott Williams speaking to reporters
Criminal charges will not be filed in connection with the drowning death of a 3-year-old boy at a Waterbury daycare facility in February, Washington County State's Attorney Scott Williams announced Monday.

Parker Berry, of Hyde Park, wandered away from Elephant in the Field daycare center and was found unconscious in a nearby brook. The boy died two days later.

The Department for Children and Families revoked Elephant in the Field's daycare license after the incident.

Williams said that actions already taken against the daycare will "remove future risk to public safety."

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