You have filed your notice of denial with the Vermont Judicial Bureau and have received a notice of hearing to appear in a Vermont court, so what happens next?
The process in defending your Vermont CDL or traffic ticket can be multi-faceted depending on the resolution that is reached at each step of the process. In sum, the more times you ask for a review of a judgment, the more formal the process gets.
The initial hearing: Here is where the record is made, where an initial argument is heard by an assistant judge and is the first place where those facing a traffic infraction can get the result they are hoping for.
These hearings are governed by the Vermont Rules of Small Claims Procedure, a summary procedure to resolve disputes of $5,000 or less. In an effort to keep these hearings as cost effective as possible, there are numerous exceptions to the Vermont Rules of Evidence that allow Defendants to introduce hearsay evidence that is customarily inadmissible in more formal court proceedings such as statements of third parties, pictures, business records etc…
The initial hearing is where most cases are resolved either by negotiations or through the summary trial procedure. These hearings are recorded so as to preserve the record in the event an appeal is taken
Appeal to District Court: If a case is resolved in a fashion not to the Defendant’s liking, they can appeal the decision to a Vermont District Court Judge. There are certain procedures which must be followed and certain documents that must be filed within a 30 day time period in order for a judge to hear the case on appeal. In a direct appeal, the Court will review the record and evidence presented at the initial hearing and will issue an order either affirming or overturning the lower court’s decision. The Court will schedule a time for oral argument to be made unless both side agree to submit the case solely on the record presented.
Option for Jury Trial: If a defendant desires they can demand a jury trial on their appeal. This process opens up further avenues to contest the allegations based on legal or procedural grounds that are not afforded at the initial hearing. Motions to suppress or dismiss may be filed with the consent of the district court judge and may be argued prior to the jury hearing the case. This may also open up further ways to resolve the case through negotiations that were not afforded at the initial case hearing.
The bottom line is that for many drivers facing a Vermont CDL or traffic ticket, there may be several ways in which they can fight a ticket, which opens up many more ways to reach a resolution that meets both their short and long term goals.