First, we have a leaseholder seeking to intervene in a condemnation proceeding for a highway project. The trial court denied leaseholder corporation’s motion to intervene because leaseholder was not a “property owner,” as defined in the applicable statute, in the trial court’s view. SCOV reverses, holding that the leaseholder has an unconditional statutory right to intervene under Rule 24 and that the statutory right to intervene uses “property owner” and “interested person” interchangeably. Because leaseholder qualifies as a “person who has a legal interest of record in the property taken or proposed to be taken,” leaseholder had a right to intervene in the condemnation proceeding. The trial court done messed up. Agency of Transp. v. Timberlake Associates, 2020 VT 73.
Our next case deals with whether a jury instruction in a criminal case that says—and I’m paraphrasing here—“you may consider evidence of flight indicative of guilt” is plain error. In this case, SCOV reasons that there was other evidence of defendant’s guilt and then instruction was not plain error. The facts of the case are a little odd—click the link and read it yourself. State v. Welch, 2020 VT 74.
Finally, we have a labor grievance. Here’s the short version. Accrued compensation and leave benefits can and do—according to the Vermont State Employees Union’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA)—transfer from state job to state job. Grievant was a county deputy for several years who then moved to a position with the Department of Liquor Control. The State reasoned that when he was a deputy, grievant was a county employee and so he wasn’t entitled to the accrued-benefits-move-with-you provisions in the CBA. Grievant filed a—you guessed it—grievance with the Labor Relations Board. The Board disagreed with the State’s accrued-benfits-don’t-transfer reasoning, but didn’t give grievant his pay bump that he would have been entitled to under the CBA for a promotion. Here, SCOV holds that grievant was a state employee and that the Board made a mistake when it limited the promotion clause to “classified” employees only when the CBA doesn’t include that limitation. Bottom line? Grievant, along with his union, prevails. In re Welch, 2020 VT 72.