On Monday, September 19, 2022, the Vermont Judicial Conduct Board publicly reprimanded former Chittenden County Assistant Judge Charles Delaney for approving a $2,000 bonus payment for himself while he was still on the bench.

“The judge was charged with violating Canon 1, Rule 1.1, and Rule 1.2 of the Vermont Code of Judicial Conduct, which states:

A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

According to the Board, they received a complaint on July 24, 2019, alleging that Assistant Judge Delaney and Assistant Judge Constance Ramsey — then Chittenden County’s two Assistant Judges — submitted a written request for a $2,000.00 bonus payment to each of them for work they did to address damage to the Chittenden County courthouse in the wake of a 2017 windstorm. After the Board conducted an initial inquiry, attorney Andrew Snow, who was appointed as special counsel to investigate the matter further, filed a formal complaint against the judge on August 12, 2021.

The eight-page Disposition Report from the Judicial Conduct Board stated that Assistant Judge Delaney attempted to defend the bonus by pointing out that his work on the courthouse project and the bonus itself related to his county administrative functions and not his judicial role. He also argued at hearing that his actions related to the bonus were done transparently and that none of the other county officials involved — the Clerk or the Treasurer — questioned the transaction.

The Disposition Report stated that:

“By requesting and approving his own bonus, Assistant Judge Delaney put himself on both sides of the transaction, as both steward and recipient of County funds. And he did so intentionally, not by mistake… This in and of itself gives rise to an appearance of impropriety.”

While the Board believed Assistant Judge Delaney worked diligently and in good faith on the Courthouse restoration, expending hours well beyond his standard duties for the County, that does not change the outcome that an appearance of impropriety existed.

The Disposition Report concluded that:

“The For all of the foregoing reasons, the Board unanimously concludes that Assistant Judge Delaney created an appearance of impropriety by requesting, authorizing, and accepting the $2,000.00 bonus payment and thereby violated Rule 1.2. In so doing, he failed to comply with the Code, and for this reason, we also conclude that he violated Rule 1.1…

In the Board’s unanimous judgment, the appropriate sanction for the above violations is a public reprimand.”

Charles Delaney was elected as a superior court judge in Chittenden County on November 2, 2010, to a five-year term beginning on February 1, 2011. He was re-elected on November 4, 2014, for a term that expired on January 31, 2019.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.