03.24.14

Leahy Recommends Vermont Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Crawford For Vermont’s Upcoming U.S. District Court Vacancy

(MONDAY, March 24, 2014) – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Monday recommended Vermont Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Crawford to President Obama, to be the next judge on Vermont’s U.S. District Court. 

Justice Crawford was one of two finalists suggested by the nine-member, nonpartisan Vermont Judicial Nominating Commission, to fill the upcoming vacancy on the court when Judge William Sessions takes senior status.  Leahy interviewed the finalists in Vermont earlier this month.

           

Leahy said, “Justice Crawford is an experienced and well-respected jurist.  In the finest Vermont tradition, he is known for his modesty and humanity, for his warmth, for his pragmatism, and for his unwavering commitment to the highest standards of public service.”

The U.S. District Court in Vermont is at full strength with two active judges currently serving, but Judge Sessions’ decision to take senior status will soon create a vacancy.  The nine-member, nonpartisan Vermont Judicial Nominating Commission consists of three commissioners named by Leahy, three by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and three by the Vermont Bar Association.  The merit commission continues a tradition that the late Sen. Robert Stafford (R-Vt.) and Leahy developed and used, and that has been used since then.  By longstanding practice, the senior senator of the President’s party then recommends the final candidate for a judicial vacancy to the President.  Leahy is Vermont’s senior senator as well as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which first considers judicial nominations in the Senate. 

Leahy noted that Justice Crawford has experience both as a private attorney and as a judge and has earned a reputation for his skill in working with juries and handling a wide variety of litigation.  In the screening process, he said, the commissioners learned that attorneys who have appeared before him have found him to be an engaged and careful jurist who treats everyone in the courtroom with respect.

“I am confident that Justice Crawford will make an excellent Federal District Court judge in our state,” said Leahy.

Justice Crawford, of Burlington, was born in 1954.  He earned an undergraduate degree from Yale and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1980.  From 1980 to 1981 he served as a law clerk to Hon. Albert W. Coffrin for the U.S. District Court, for the District of Vermont.  From 1981 to 1984 he was an associate at Burlingham, Underwood & Lord in New York City.  From 1984 to 1987 he was an associate at Manchester & O'Neill.  In 1987 he and Jerome F. O'Neill formed the firm of O'Neill, Crawford & Green, where he practiced until 2002.  In November 2002 he was appointed as a Vermont Superior Court judge by Governor Howard Dean.  In October 2013 he was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court by Governor Peter Shumlin.  He and his wife have raised five children. 

Leahy said, “I’ve been a member of the Vermont Bar since I was 26, and I was impressed that so many highly qualified lawyers were willing to serve in such a demanding post.  We in Vermont are fortunate.  The field of applicants is a credit to our state and to Vermont’s legal community.”  He also again thanked the Commission, under the leadership of Peter Van Oot, “for the time, effort and insight they invested in the screening process.”

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