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ACLU of Vermont Legal Advocacy
 
Here is a sampling of the ACLU of Vermont's recent legal advocacy advocacy, including some of the relevant documents. Our work is not just in the courts, however: we also pursue legislative advocacy and public education. You can find out more about these areas of action on our blog.
 
Automated License Plate Reader public records request
Requested: Information about how federal homeland security grants are used in Vermont to purchase automated license plate reader (ALPR) systems, and, information about where those systems are used, how they are used, and how the resulting data about Vermonters' movements is stored and shared.
From: Vermont Department of Public Safety; Town of Hartford
Status: open - Town of Hartford response complete; Vt. Dep't of Pub. Safety responses pending
Documents:
 
FBI files re. Vermont ethnic minorities
Requested: All data regarding the FBI's recent mandate to gather information about and “map” racial and ethnic demographics, “behaviors,” and “life style characteristics” in local communities.
From: FBI field office covering Vt. (Albany, NY)
Status: open - initial documents received
Documents:
 
ACLU of Vt. v. Office of the Vt. Att'y General
Issue: Whether, under Vermont's public records act, a public agency may refuse to produce records showing whether and how it tracks cellphone movements without a warrant.
Court: Vt. Superior Court, Civil Division, Washington Unit (docket no. 184-3-10 WNCV)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: closed
Documents:
 
Bain v. Clark: amicus brief
Issue: Whether Exemption 5 to Vermont's public records act permits the withholding of routine files reflecting the daily administration of a law enforcement agency.
Court: Vt. Supreme Court (docket no. 2009-468)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: reversed as urged by ACLU-Vt as amicus curiae
Documents:
 
Baker v. Wildflower Inn a/k/a DOR Assocs., LLP
Issue: Whether Vermont's public accommodations act is violated when a resort operator refuses to host a couple's wedding reception because they are gay.
Court: Vt. Superior Court, Civil Division, Caledonia Unit (docket no. 183-7-11 CACV)
Counsel:
Status: judgment for plaintiffs
Documents:
 
Cote v. Bardin
Issue: Whether the Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against same-sex spouses awarded property or support in a divorce by permitting a debtor to discharge those obligations in bankruptcy, while an opposite-sex debtor would be prohibited from doing so.
Court: U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Dist. of Vt. (docket no. 12-ap-1013)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: closed - settled
Documents:
 
Crowell v. Wrinn
Issue: Whether police officers' arrest of silent, sign-holding protesters at a public speech by the governor violated the protesters' Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure.
Court: U.S. District Court for the Dist. of Vt. (docket no. 10-cv-13)
Counsel:
Status: closed - settled
Documents:
 
Cyr v. Addison Rutland Supervisory Union
Issues:
  • Whether a public school supervisory union may ban a parent from attending and participating in public meetings without notice or a meaningful opportunity to be heard, or may fail to produce public records about that decision.
  • Whether the Access to Public Records Act forbids a public agency from suing a records requester in response to a public records request.
Courts:
  • U.S. District Court for the Dist. of Vt. (docket no. 12-cv-105) (Mr. Cyr's suit against supervisory union)
  • Vermont Superior Court (docket no. 275-4-12 Rdcv) (supervisory union's suit against Mr. Cyr)
Counsel:
  • Dan Barrett, staff attorney
  • Ted Hobson, Burlington
Status: Vermont Superior Court case closed; U.S. District Court case open
Vt. Superior Ct. docs:
U.S. District Ct. docs:
 
Galloway v. Town of Hartford
Issue: Whether a reporter may obtain records reflecting police officers' entry into a home and forceful, mistaken apprehension and detention of the homeowner inside under Vermont's public records act.
Court:
  • Vermont Superior Court, Civil Division, Windsor Unit (docket no. 473-8-10 WRCV)
  • Vermont Supreme Court (docket no. 2011-211)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: reversed - town must disclose records
Documents:
 
Hackett v. Town of Franklin
Issue: Whether a town and its moderator violate Article 3 of the Vermont Constitution and the Vermont public accommodations act when they incorporate religious worship into town meeting.
Court: Vermont Superior Court, Civil Division, Franklin Unit
Counsel:
Status: open
Documents:
 
Hagan v. City of Barre
Issue: Whether a municipality exceeded its lawful authority by forbidding certain individuals from residing in the municipality on the basis of criminal history.
Court: Vermont Superior Court, Civil Division, Washington Unit (docket no. 320-5-09 WNCV)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: judgment in favor of plaintiff Christopher Hagan
Documents:
 
In re Appeal of App. for Search Warrant: amicus brief
Issue: Whether the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article Eleven of the Vermont Constitution permit judges to limit the invasiveness of searches of electronic devices.
Court: Vt. Supreme Court (docket no. 2010-479)
Counsel: Jay Rorty, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Proj.
  Jason Williamson, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Proj.
  Hanni Fakhoury, Electronic Frontier Foundation
  Catherine Crump, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Tech. Proj.
  Dan Barrett, ACLU of Vermont
Status: closed - United States Supreme Court denies certiorari; favorable pro-privacy Vt. Supreme Court ruling stands
Documents:
 
In re Search Warrants: amicus brief
Issue: Whether a state's attorney's office may have search warrant returns sealed in totality, based solely on a general allegation that revelation of any of the information in the returns would harm a criminal investigation.
Court: Vt. Supreme Court (docket no. 2011-228)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: open - awaiting decision
Documents:
 
In re HS-122: amicus brief
Issue: Whether Vermont’s tax privacy statute requires towns collecting the statewide education tax to redact household income data from records produced for inspection under the Access to Public Records Act.
Court: Vt. Supreme Court (docket no. 2011-128)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: closed - reversed as urged by ACLU-Vt as amicus curiae
Documents:
 
MacIver v. Lawton
Issue: Whether a police officer may stop a motorist without reasonable suspicion to do so, and may issue the motorist a ticket as punishment for disagreeing about whether the motorist committed a traffic violation.
Court: United States District Court for the District of Vermont
Counsel: Steve Saltonstall, Manchester Center
  Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: open
Documents:
 
Prison Legal News v. Corrections Corp. of America
Issue: Whether Vermont's Access to Public Records Act applies to a corporation that is standing in the shoes of the Vermont Department of Corrections by housing Vermont prisoners.
Court: Vermont Superior Court (docket no. 332-5-13 WNCV)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: open
Documents:
 
Prison Legal News v. Prison Health Servs., Inc.
Issue: Whether Vermont's Access to Public Records Act applies to a corporation that is performing a state function under the supervision of a public agency and has agreed to be subject to the Act.
Court: Vermont Superior Court (docket no. 622-8-10 WNCV)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: closed - settled
Documents:
 
Rutland Herald v. Vt. State Police: amicus brief
Issue: Whether Exemption 5 to Vermont's Access to Public Records Act permits a law enforcement agency to withhold all documents relating to an investigation where the investigation is closed, no charges will be filed, and the principal target is dead.
Court: Vermont Supreme Court (docket no. 2010-434)
Counsel: Dan Barrett, staff attorney
Status: open - awaiting decision
Documents:
 
Stone v. Town of Middlebury
Issue: Whether a municipality exceeded its authority and violated the federal constitution when it used its public health power to unilaterally amend Vermont's controlled substances scheme.
Court:
  • Vermont Superior Court, Civil Division, Addison Unit (docket no. 105-5-09 ANCV)
  • Vermont Supreme Court (docket no. 2010-180)
Counsel:
Status: closed - settled
Documents:
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