Small Claims Court Reforms Considered Following Illegal Arrests

The Vermont Judiciary is considering reforms to small claims court following the resignation of Caledonia County assistant judge Roy Vance, who had issued illegal arrest warrants in his court during his two-decade tenure.

News Story (Vermont)

Emily Corwin
Vermont Public Radio
February 13, 2020

Tags: Debt Collection, Small Claims Court

Organizations mentioned/involved: Vermont Legal Aid (VLA)


The Judiciary’s Civil Division Oversight Committee is tasked with ensuring access to justice, and makes recommendations regarding court rules and state law. After Vance’s resignation, committee chair Helen Toor invited a handful of attorneys to propose changes, including Jean Murray with Vermont Legal Aid.

Murray said Judge Vance’s actions revealed a concerning lack of oversight of small claims decisionmakers. “There need to be judges in small claims,” she said.

Vermont’s small claims courts are overseen by a small number of nonlawyer assistant judges, like Vance, and a lot of part-time volunteer attorneys, known as acting judges. Assistant and acting judges are not subject to judicial retention hearings like other judges.