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Judge William Cohen Named To Vermont Supreme Court

The exterior of the Vermont Supreme Court building on State Street in Montpelier.
Matthew Smith
VPR File
Gov. Phil Scott announced Thursday that he has selected William "Bill" Cohen to fill a vacancy on the Vermont Supreme Court.

Gov. Phil Scott has appointed a superior court judge from Rutland to serve as the next associate justice of the Vermont Supreme Court.

William "Bill" Cohen has spent the last 20 years presiding over county courtrooms across the state. Scott said Cohen's humbleness and modesty make him the right choice for the bench.

"He doesn't take himself as being any better than anyone else, and I think that's important for anyone in a position of power," Scott said Thursday.

Scott selected Cohen from a list of candidates forwarded bythe Judicial Nominating Board. The governor said Cohen’s judicial temperament distinguished him from the field.

"He's just a common type of person. He explains things well, so the average Vermonter can understand it,” Scott said. “And I think that his upbringing in the Rutland area, and ... again his humbleness, I think will suit him well.”

Cohen replaces former Associate Justice Marilyn Skoglund, who retired from the state Supreme Court in September; his appointment means men will once again make up a majority of the five-justice court.

Cohen received his law degree from Vermont Law School, and he began his legal career as a deputy state's attorney before moving onto private practice at two law firms in Rutland. He's been a superior court judge since 1999.

"I am honored to serve the people of the State of Vermont and join an incredible team of justices on the Vermont Supreme Court," Cohen said in a written statement released Thursday. "It has been my privilege to be a Vermont trial judge for the past 20 years and I will continue to work towards providing equal justice to all Vermonters as a member of the Vermont Supreme Court."

Cohen currently presides over superior courts in Bennington and Rutland counties. He will be sworn into office by Scott in a ceremony later this month.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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