Burlington City Attorney Tapped as New Vermont Superior Court Judge | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Burlington City Attorney Tapped as New Vermont Superior Court Judge


Published April 26, 2022 at 3:03 p.m.

Dan Richardson and Mayor Miro Weinberger - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Dan Richardson and Mayor Miro Weinberger
After less than a year on the job, Burlington City Attorney Dan Richardson will resign next month to become Vermont's newest Superior Court judge.

Gov. Phil Scott's office announced Richardson's appointment in a press release Tuesday afternoon.

“Dan has demonstrated a deep commitment to service and a dedication to Vermont throughout his career,” Scott said in a statement. “I’m confident he will continue his good work in this new role, and I appreciate his willingness to serve.”

Richardson started in Burlington last August, following the retirement of former city attorney Eileen Blackwood, who was one of Mayor Miro Weinberger's first appointees after he was elected in 2012. Richardson was previously a partner at the private law firm Tarrant, Gillies & Shems in Montpelier for 16 years and has served as a law clerk for three Vermont judges.

The council appointed Richardson with an 8-2 vote last summer, after some councilors raised concerns that he sought a residency waiver to continue living in Montpelier, where his young children are enrolled in school.

"We see our future in Burlington," Richardson reassured them then, noting that he'd relocate after his children graduated.

In an interview Tuesday, Richardson said he applied for the judgeship in December, not expecting to be selected for a position that he called "a lifelong dream and goal."

"The really bittersweet part of this is that I really enjoy my job as city attorney, and I had no intention of leaving it but for this once in a lifetime opportunity," he said. "It was something I had long hoped for ... and I was very fortunate."
Dan Richardson (right) during an election recount - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Dan Richardson (right) during an election recount
Richardson will leave his Burlington post in May. He's unsure of where he'll be seated in the judiciary but said he'd recuse himself from any Burlington-related litigation that came his way. And there are some lawsuits pending, including one from fired aviation director Gene Richards, who's suing to get his job back; a case challenging the closure of the former Sears Lane encampment; and two property assessment appeals, to name a few.

Richardson has also been participating in negotiations for all three employee bargaining units, whose contracts expire in June. And he's one of a handful of point people in the city's redistricting process, which councilors discussed at Monday night's meeting.

Despite his swift departure, Richardson said he's not leaving the city in a lurch. The five other attorneys in his office are well-versed in all aspects of the job, he said.

"They've all been involved with issues that I've been involved in, so I really think we're in pretty good shape," he said. "It's a matter of finding the next city attorney to bring the same sort of energy and dedication, and I think there's a couple of really good, strong candidates out there that could potentially take my place with very little effort."

In a statement Tuesday evening, Weinberger thanked Richardson for his service.

“While we hate to lose Dan from the City team, serving as a judge is one of the highest and most impactful callings for any Vermont lawyer, and I am proud to see a sitting Burlington City Attorney being appointed to the respected Vermont bench," he said. "We have already begun the process to find Burlington’s next great City Attorney and will work to keep the vacancy as brief as possible."

The city attorney post won't be the only vacant department head position. The city's Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging has been without a leader since former director Tyeastia Green left in March; the mayor has yet to address plans for filling the position.

The city also has two acting department heads: aviation director Nic Longo, who took over for Richards, and police chief Jon Murad, whom Weinberger has permitted to stay on "indefinitely" despite the fact that the council did not confirm Murad for the post earlier this year.