Citing a reputation for "fairness and rigor, as well as his demonstrated commitment to ensuring that our judiciary serves the needs of Vermonters," Gov. Peter Shumlin this morning announced the appointment of Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford to be the next Vermont Supreme Court justice. Crawford will replace former Justice Brian Burgess, who retired on August 1.
Crawford (seen right, in bowtie, with the HowardCenter's Bob Wolford) was appointed to the Chittenden County Superior Court in 2002 by then-governor Howard Dean. Previously, he was a partner in Burlington law firm of O’Neill Crawford & Green, where he handled a variety of civil matters, including commercial litigation and personal injury cases.
As a superior court judge, Crawford is known for his compassion and "having a strong legal mind," says Vermont Law School Professor Cheryl Hanna. She says she was particularly impressed with the way Crawford handled the case of Christopher Williams, the man convicted of murdering Linda Lambesis and Alicia Shanks in the August 2006 Essex school shooting. Hanna says that Crawford showed "real judicial leadership" in the case, which affected not only the victims and their families, but the entire community.
"He's considered to be a real humanist," she adds, "someone who really cares about people who are underserved."
Crawford's empathy extends beyond office hours. He currently serves as a board member of Dismas of Vermont in Burlington, which helps prison inmates integrate back into their home communities.
Crawford was featured prominently in a December 6, 2006 Seven Days cover story about his service on Vermont's first-ever mental health court, titled, "A Kinder Court: Chittenden County rethinks its approach to mentally ill offenders." The article made note of Crawford's ability to connect with the people who entered his courtroom, to whom he referred not as "defendants" in need of punishment but as "clients" who required counseling and other support services.
A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, Crawford lives with his wife in Burlington, where they raised five children.