State Government

Public defender, family court judge among five Superior Court appointees

Governor Phil Scott today announced his appointment of five Vermont Superior Court Judges: Benjamin Battles of Waterbury, Susan McManus of Manchester Center, Rachel Malone of South Burlington, Alexander Burke of Arlington, and Navah Spero of Richmond.

Nominees must be approved by the Legislature. Superior Court judges earn about $250,000/year, according to

About Benjamin Battles

Battles has worked at the Vermont Attorney General’s Office for nine years. He has served as Chief of the General Counsel and Administrative Law Division, overseeing more than 30 attorneys and staff providing legal services to the State of Vermont, and as Solicitor General, where he supervised and conducted the State’s appellate litigation in the Vermont Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to his government service, Battles has practiced at several law firms in Vermont and New York, and taught state constitutional law at Vermont Law & Graduate School. He graduated from the University of Vermont and Brooklyn Law School and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Dora Irizarry, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, and to the Honorable Morton Greenberg, U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

About Susan McManus

McManus has been a public defender in Vermont for the last 13 years, practicing in both Windham and Bennington Counties. Prior to that, she was an associate attorney with the firm Barr Sternberg Moss Lawrence Silver Saltonstall & Fenster in Bennington, Vermont, where she practiced family, civil and criminal law. McManus is a member and past-president of the Vermont Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

McManus graduated from Vermont Law School in 2007. She received her B.A. in English from Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT in 2004. 

About Rachel Malone

Malone has been a Judicial Master in Chittenden and Franklin Counties since 2020. In this role, she has helped develop and now presides in the Chittenden County Family Treatment Docket, which offers support and oversight to parents with substance use disorder. Rachel started her career as a public defender in Chittenden County, where she represented indigent defendants in Criminal Court and children and parents in Juvenile Court.  She served for two years as the public defender representative to the Adult Treatment Court in Chittenden County.

“In my time as a public defender and judicial master, I have been fortunate to work with and learn from a wide range of attorneys, social workers, probation officers, and other service providers, who shared a common goal of improving the lives of Vermonters,” said Malone. “I am also forever grateful to my former clients and treatment court participants for placing their faith in me, as an advocate and as a judicial officer, and for their willingness to share their struggles. I am deeply honored by Governor Scott’s decision to entrust me with this position, and I will continue to strive to treat all people served by the Court fairly and equitably, and with dignity.”

Malone graduated summa cum laude from Case Western Reserve University with a B.A. in Philosophy and Theater. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria, where she taught English in local primary and secondary schools.  She received a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

About Alexander Burke

A lifelong resident of Vermont, Burke has been a prosecutor in Bennington County since 2010, practicing in the Criminal and Family Divisions.  Burke earned a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Boston College and a J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law.  He is a member of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Remote Hearings and has been an active board member for several local non-profit organizations. 

About Navah Spero

Spero currently works as a partner at Gravel & Shea PC. Prior to joining the firm as an associate, she worked as a law clerk for the Superior Court of Washington, D.C. Her litigation practice includes a wide variety of civil litigation, with a focus on commercial disputes, trust and estate conflicts, and representing plaintiffs in negligence cases.

Spero has served as specially appointed disciplinary counsel before the Professional Responsibility Board and has appeared in the courts of almost every county in the State and in the Vermont Supreme Court.  She currently serves on the Vermont Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure and is a past-president of the Chittenden County Bar Association. She received a B.A. in History from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.

Categories: State Government

4 replies »

  1. Two of the five are public defenders. Vermont’s more dangerous than ever and this is your “Republican” governor’s solution?

  2. We certainly have no shortage of insider, complicit, palm greased attorneys and judges in Pervmont[sic]. The deck chairs are rearranged on a daily basis now by Governor Empty Suit. If they had any ethics or spines, the State would not be imploding into it’s own cellar hole. As Rep. Clay Higgins said to FBI’s Christopher Wray – “your day is coming Mr. Wray.” The day is coming for all of them. Declared and decreed!