|In 1997 Howard Dean announced his desire to appoint judges willing to subvert the Bill of Rights or in Howard Dean lingo “legal technicalities”. Two judges appointed within months of Dean infamous 1997 statement have been found guilty of civil rights violations by a federal court in Manhattan. (fn1) Dean’s top appointee and lawyer, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, was defense counsel for the corrupt government employees in this case where Sorrell has expended vast public funds to forward the goal of undermining the First Amendment in Vermont. |
To get a true feeling of the judicial and law enforcement climate fostered by Dean in Vermont, it is instructional to look at his # 1 Vermont appointee and life-long friend, William Sorrell. Dean owed a great debt to the Sorrell family for mentoring his ascent in Vermont politics. Dean’s first notable gubernatorial appointment in Vermont was to install Sorrell as Secretary of Administration in 1992. In 1997, it became time to thank the Sorrell family again and Dean attempted to appoint Sorrell as the chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. As Sorrell had no judicial experience, Dean’s zeal to appoint his favorite crony was met with a legislative roadblock. Dean had a backup plan, appoint the Attorney General to the Supreme Court and then appoint Sorrell to fill the Attorney General vacancy. All was well with Vermont Cronies. (fn2)
In describing Sorrell, Dean was quite generous with his praise of his friend’s character and abilities, illustrating the nature of their relationship: “I have an enormous amount of respect for Sorrell as a human being and as a really smart lawyer.”
A subordinate of Sorrell’s issued the following prosecutorial written threat in a Vermont state court proceeding,
"The last claim involves a statement made to attorney Capriola warning that the defendant would be charged with additional crimes if he did not clam down. The statement is a reference to the defendant's continued harassment of the victim and the investigating officer in this case through the court process. The defendant has filed a civil action against the victim because of his participation in this criminal case. The State is currently reviewing a contempt charge against the defendants because of this activity. The statement was a proper warning made through the defendant's representative."
Sorrell approvingly has stood behind and defended the above threat which now has become part of a prosecutor’s toolbox in Vermont. The above threat is the epitome of the government’s coercive use of the power of criminal prosecution to influence and manipulate civil court proceedings tantamount to extortion and obstruction of justice concerning a matter before a federal court. Dean’s “really smart lawyer” and top appointee at work.
Sorrell’s conduct doesn’t stop there, his subordinates followed up the above threat with a plea agreement that specified the dismissal and non-pursuit of civil lawsuits against the prosecutors themselves. The dismissal of a lawsuit is an item of monetary value benefiting Sorrell’s underlings – or to put it bluntly this conduct is tantamount to acceptance of a bribe by state prosecutors. Dean’s “really smart lawyer” strongly approved and defended the conduct. One can’t assign full responsibility concerning this government corruption to Dean’s friend alone because two of Dean’s hand-picked anti-“legal technicality” judicial appointees presided over and approved the government misconduct.
Then there was the police shooting of Robert (“Woody”) Woodward in Brattleboro, Vermont in 2001. The massacre involved 7 shots from police revolvers fatally wounding Mr. Woodward – with some of the shots fired into his body while he was bleeding on the ground in the fetal position. Dean and Sorrell, both irrationally obsessive police advocates, put the cover-up machine into gear. Sorrell authored a biased report overlooking much of the testimony and evidence. When Dean was asked to appoint a special independent investigator he backed up his old crony and stated that Sorrell was a “really smart lawyer”. One of Dean’s so-called “legal technicalities”, the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits a biased decision-maker. Something as trivial as the Constitution didn’t stop Dean from deciding not to usurp his friend’s report by refusing to appoint an independent investigator regardless of his very public conflict-of-interest with Sorrell. Pursuant to the constitution, Dean should have disqualified himself. (fn3)
Sorrell has lately kept busy in the courts fighting to keep Howard Dean’s gubernatorial records sealed. In light of the foregoing, one can only imagine what vile government conduct Sorrell and Dean are covering up in the sealed records lawsuit. Sorrell’s friendship with Dean is still costing the Vermont taxpayers thousands of litigation dollars and Dean’s “really smart lawyer” friend apparently flunked attorney ethics which prohibit Sorrell’s representation of Dean under attorney conflict-of-interest principles. (fn4)
In Sorrell’s possession is a sworn transcript and audio tape of a major U.S. corporation’s quite illegal conduct constituting extortion and other crimes. To date, the reason is unknown for Sorrell’s cover-up of the criminal enterprise set forth in the audio tape aside from the fact that any such reason would be incompatible with law enforcement. Also in this questionable category is Sorrell’s cover-up of an alcoholic beverage retailer’s activities who operated without federal or state licenses for 8 years during the Dean/Sorrell decade in Vermont despite a report from Vermont’s own liquor investigator that the illegal conduct existed. Dean’s appointee response – cover up.
It appears that neither Dean nor his lawyer crony have any respect for the Bill of Rights, ethical considerations or the rule of law when it doesn’t fit into their dubious agendas. Recently, Dean has labeled the members of an entire political party as “evil”. Perhaps Dean should look in the mirror and look at the condition he left Vermont in after a decade of his appointments prior to disparaging others. The man who said 95 percent of people charged with crimes are guilty anyway so why should the state spend money on providing them with lawyers should indeed criticize very carefully from his anti-constitutional corrupt glass house. (fn5)
111-2c Killam Court
Cary, NC 27513
About the Author
Expert on Vermont Justice issues related to Howard Dean and his appointees.
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