Supreme Court Orders New Trial for Former Senator Norm McAllister | Off Message

Supreme Court Orders New Trial for Former Senator Norm McAllister


  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Norm McAllister in court
The Vermont Supreme Court has ordered a new trial on a charge that former state senator Norm McAllister engaged in a prostitution scheme with a woman living on his farm.

The court said Judge Martin Maley made two mistakes in McAllister’s trial: He allowed jurors to consider separate sex-for-rent allegations for which McAllister was never convicted, and he improperly told the jury to ignore statements by McAllister’s accuser.

McAllister was convicted in July 2017 of one misdemeanor count of procuring a person for the purpose of prostitution. He was acquitted of a second count, and also of a felony sexual assault charge. It was the second trial involving allegations that led to McAllister’s 2015 arrest at the Statehouse. He was accused of sex-related crimes against multiple women.

The state dropped its charges in the first trial after the key witness allegedly lied under oath.

McAllister escaped a felony sexual assault conviction in his second trial, and now the prostitution conviction has been thrown out pending a new trial.

The written decision says that Maley told attorneys before the trial that separate sex crime allegations against McAllister should not be introduced because jurors were only evaluating the specific allegations related to one accuser.

During the trial, the justices wrote, Maley made the mistake of allowing prosecutors to admit evidence involving a different woman. “We conclude the admission of the alleged prior bad act evidence was an abuse of discretion,” the decision says.

Separately, Maley told jurors to ignore testimony from McAllister’s accuser in which she said, “I did it with a guy before for money.”

  • File: Pool Photo/Gregory J. Lamoureux/County Courier
  • Judge Martin Maley
McAllister’s attorney, Bob Katims, said that mistake was central to his client’s conviction.

“[The jury] basically said they didn’t have a decision and then all of a sudden they had a question and once the question got answered they had a verdict,” Katims said. He said that if Franklin County prosecutors decide to move forward with a new trial, he’ll fight it.

“We’d be filing a motion to dismiss the charge. There’s a mechanism to file a motion to — it’s not a legal term, but ‘enough is enough,’” Katims said.

“He’s now been brought to trial twice. It was dismissed in one place; he was acquitted of two out of three charges the second time,” Katims said. “He certainly has suffered greatly from this in that he lost his seat in the legislature… He’s been on probation for the last year.”

A woman who answered the phone at the Franklin County state's attorney's office on Friday afternoon said nobody was available to comment.

Read the full decision here:

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