July 29, 2020

Vermont Supreme Court Makes Additional Declarations Regarding Judicial Emergency

On July 17, 2020, and July 24, 2020, the Vermont Supreme Court made further declarations regarding the Judicial Emergency that was declared on March 16, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Special Pleading Requirements for Eviction and Foreclosure Proceedings
The Court has established special pleading requirements for eviction and foreclosure proceedings potentially affected by the federal CARES Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136. That Act sets forth specific requirements for properties financed by federally backed loans or participating in certain federal housing programs when they are the subject of an eviction for nonpayment or a foreclosure action.

In any eviction action of a tenant in residential housing commenced on or after March 27, 2020, the plaintiff must attach to the complaint a certificate that either the Act does not apply to the leased property or that the plaintiff has complied with the applicable provisions of the Act.

Similarly, in actions for residential foreclosure filed between March 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020, the plaintiff must certify compliance with applicable provisions of the CARES Act.

The Court has taken these measures because in both eviction and foreclosure proceedings, the court must be informed as to whether the CARES Act applies. The information necessary to make that determination is not readily accessible to the individual tenant or homeowner. Plaintiff landlords and lenders have both the need for this information in their operations and the capacity to acquire and present it with relatively little effort.  Forms for the certification are provided on the Judiciary website as Appendix A and Appendix B.  The certifications must be substantially in this form.

(Appendix A)
(Appendix B)

Victims and Victim Advocates Allowed to Enter Courthouses to Attend Hearings
The Court has also clarified that victims of crimes and victim advocates are among the individuals allowed to enter courthouses for the purpose of attending hearings

Filing of Briefs in the Supreme Court
The Court has amended language regarding the filing of briefs in the Supreme Court to require that one paper copy of briefs and printed cases be filed within a week of the electronic filing. The Court retains its discretion to require parties to file additional paper copies of briefs and printed cases.

Pandemic-Related Modifications of Continuing Legal Education Requirements for Attorneys for 2019-2021 Reporting Cycles
The Court has modified the continuing legal education requirements for attorneys for the 2019-2021 reporting cycle to account for the ongoing limitations on in-person gatherings because of the COVID pandemic.

Cancellation of In-Person Bar Exam
The Court has cancelled the in-person bar exam. The order authorizes the Board of Bar Examiners to conduct and grade a remote bar examination in the fall of 2020. Applicants who were registered and authorized to sit for the July 2020 examination will be automatically registered for the remote examination. Registered applicants who choose not to take the remote exam may receive a refund or choose to register to sit for the February 2021 exam. Registered applicants choosing to take the exam in February 2021 will be permitted to continue to practice as a legal intern. The order also authorizes the Board to enter agreements with other states so that scores will be portable.

Explanatory Notes Added
Additional Explanatory Notes provide the reasons for taking these measures.

Read the full Order: