County News

Legislature’s Impeachment Committee continues to exclude public from hearings

by Gregory J. Lamoureux, for County Courier

The Impeachment Inquiry Committee for the Vermont legislature, which is considering possible action against two elected Franklin County officials, is scheduled to meet again behind closed doors on Friday.

The committee held two secret sessions on Thursday and Friday last week.

The committee is initially focusing on Franklin County State’s Attorney John Lavoie for possible improper and insensitive comments reportedly made about and in front of office employees since he was sworn in on Feb. 1.  

The agenda says the Friday session is on the Lavoie matter and that the committee expects to conduct the session in executive session.  It is due to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the agenda said.

The posted agendas for both last Thursday and Friday only said that after being called to order at 9 a.m. each day, the committee expected to do its work behind closed doors starting at 9:05 a.m. each day. The agendas further said the committee expected to adjourn at 5 p.m. on Thursday and 3 p.m. on Friday.  Nothing else was listed for either day.

The committee, without any objection from any individual members, has adopted rules that will allow secret sessions, including when witnesses testify about the allegations that could lead to impeachment charges against Lavoie and Franklin County Sheriff John Grismore.

Grismore has been charged in Vermont Superior Court with simple assault on an intoxicated prisoner that was handcuffed and shackled to the floor at the sheriff’s off in St. Albans in August 2022. He has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has filed a motion to dismiss, which will be heard next month in Grand Isle County.

The names of the employees in Lavoie’s office are well-known, and the witnesses against Grismore in the assault case have been identified in court papers and have given public statements.  

The Vermont Press Association (VPA), which represents the daily and non-daily newspapers across the state, including at least five that circulate in Franklin County, had raised serious concerns about having secret sessions, but the committee adopted the privacy rules nonetheless.  The County Courier is a member of the VPA. 

The VPA later hired a First Amendment lawyer, Matt Byrne of Gravel & Shea, to provide the finer legal points about transparency for hearings. The privacy rules adopted by the committee go against judicial rulings to keep courtrooms open to the public.  They also go against standards for transparency within government, including Vermont’s Open Meeting Law.

The County Courier is the weekly newspaper for Franklin County.

4 replies »

  1. Grismore and/or Lavoie should start dropping dimes on all the “secret” side hustles that fills the coffers of these “associations.” Blow the whistle boys – the court of public opinion needs to be shifted and shaken to their senses. Since we know of The Biden shell companies. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to examine all the “registered” agents with the Secretary of State and how many “LLC’s”, fake corporations and associations have the same addresses, like one is located in a residential condominium in Norwalk, CT or an equity firm that doesn’t answer their phone or accept emails not listed in their directory.

  2. Mike McCarthy is always right, always correct, always enlightened, always articulate, always in the right place at the right time, always thinking of others first, always astute, always coming up with just the right words, always hip, always appreciative, always magnanimous, always selfless, always alert, always talented, always devoted to service, always a community leader, always dapper, always reaching out. It is no wonder this multi-talented man was chosen to co-lead this work. My Lord, what an amazing man and we are all so graced by his presence on this earth.

  3. They’re violating our first amendment rights. Recall them. Again, get the special interests out of the statehouse, pavillion, and off of the people’s back and out of their pocket’s. Time for the people to push back, Hard. Beat them at their own games.

  4. Where is our states’ attorney general while all this is going on? Seems to me if this is illegal it would be time to step in!