The Vermont Historical Society (VHS) is proud to announce the publication of The Law of the Hills: A Judicial History of Vermont by Paul Gillies. Join VHS for the official book launch on February 26 from 4:30-6:00 pm at the Vermont Supreme Court at 111 State St in Montpelier. The book launch will include refreshments, books signings, and a talk by the author in the Supreme Court Chamber. Free & open to everyone.

The Law of the Hills is the first general history of the judicial branch in Vermont, chronicling its birth and development from the earliest settlement to the present. Covering dramatic events of the court’s past—including times when a constitutional uncertainty caused the entire court to resign, as well as armed capture of the court by angry “regulators”-- to the more structured court of today. In addition, biographical sketches of the 134 men and women who have served on the Vermont Supreme Court bring to life the personalities and judicial character that have shaped Vermont’s laws.

The history of the courts is, as Gillies writes, “the history of Vermont in microcosm—making do with what you have, then gradually slipping into the mainstream of culture and thought that comes from other places, while steadfastly holding onto fundamental principles where you can.”

The Law of the Hills includes chapters on the judiciary, the courthouses, the New York courts before Vermont declared its independence, leading events and cases from the 241 years Vermont has existed, and a biographical appendix with sketches and portraits of those who served on the highest court.

Gillies writes, “At the podium in Woodstock is a small plaque, quoting attorney Peter Plante, on which is inscribed, ‘Practicing law is like learning how to ride a bike. Sometimes you have to pick yourself off the ground.’ This then is a view from the ground, not the high bench. From the lower elevation, the law is sometimes a great clanking machine that rolls out judgment after judgment, and then calls the next case. But there are moments of intellectual challenge second to none, of tragedy and comedy, passion and greed, all the varieties of human interaction. In courtrooms, the history of Vermont law is reenacted every day. It is a privilege to witness.”

Gillies is the author of Uncommon Law, Ancient Roads, and Other Ruminations on Vermont Legal History, published by the VHS in 2013. A former Deputy Secretary of State and a practicing trial attorney, Gillies has been working on the court history for more than 20 years.

For more information, please contact Amanda Gustin
(802) 479-4264
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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