Gov. Phil Scott appointed Karen Carroll to fill a vacancy on the Vermont Supreme Court, meaning the state's highest court will be majority women for the first time in state history.
Carroll, who has been a state Superior Court judge since 2000, will replace retiring Justice John Dooley when she takes her seat April 1. Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
Scott chose Carroll from a pool of eight candidates nominated by the Judicial Nominating Board, according to the governor's office.
Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) served on the Judicial Nominating Board. He anticipated no problem with confirming Carroll.
"The process at the Judicial Nominating Board is nonpartisan, thoughtful, really trying to cull from the list the very best," he said. "She wouldn't have advanced if there were reservations."
She will join Chief Justice Paul Reiber and associate justices Marilyn Skoglund, Beth Robinson and Harold E. Eaton on the court.
Judge Karen Carroll
"Among a pool of very strong and capable candidates, Judge Carroll distinguished herself based on her depth of experience, character, integrity, and — most importantly — understanding and application of the law," Scott said in a written statement.
Former governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, attempted to make the appointment before leaving office in January. But after a legal challenge, the Supreme Court itself ruled that the decision fell to Scott because Dooley planned to resign in April.
"It wasn't any easy decision," Scott said at a Thursday afternoon press conference.
The governor said he had no litmus test in making his decision. Nor did he know at the time he was deciding whether Carroll was in the original pool of candidates Shumlin considered or was added after Scott requested a new list.
He does know now — but still wouldn’t say.
Carroll worked in state courts in Windham, Windsor and Bennington counties. Before becoming a judge she worked for six years with the Vermont Attorney General's Office as the prosecutor for the Southern Vermont Drug Task Force.
The native Vermonter also served as a deputy state's attorney in Windham County.
Carroll graduated from Proctor High School, then got an undergraduate degree at Salve Regina College in Newport, R.I., before attending Vermont Law School.
Disclosure: Tim Ashe is the domestic partner of Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly. Find our conflict-of-interest policy here: sevendaysvt.com/disclosure