Vincent Illuzzi

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Vincent Illuzzi
Member of the Vermont Senate
from the Essex-Orleans district
In office
January, 1981 – January, 2013
Personal details
Born (1953-09-17) September 17, 1953 (age 60)
Montpelier, Vermont
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Eileen Maher
Residence Derby, Vermont
Alma mater St. Michael's College
Profession Attorney

Vincent Illuzzi (born September 17, 1953) is an American lawyer and politician from Derby, Vermont who formerly served as a Republican member of the Vermont State Senate representing the Essex-Orleans senate district.

Illuzzi was first elected to the Vermont Senate in 1980. At 27, he was the youngest person ever elected to the Vermont Senate. He served from 1981 to 2013. He did not run for reelection in 2012, and was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for Vermont Auditor of Accounts.

Background and personal life[edit]

Vincent Illuzzi was born in Montpelier, Vermont, on September 17, 1953. An attorney, he received his A.B. degree from Saint Michael's College in 1975 and a J.D. degree from Vermont Law School in 1978.

Illuzzi is married to Eileen Maher. The couple live in Derby and have one son.

Public life[edit]

Senate[edit]

Illuzzi was first elected to the Senate in 1980 and was reelected every two years through 2010.

In the Senate, he served as Assistant Minority leader from 1985 to 1988 and Assistant Republican leader from 1991 to 1992 and 1997 to 2005. He served as Republican leader in 2005.[1]

Other government service[edit]

Illuzzi holds the office of Essex County State's Attorney, to which he was first elected in 1998.

He also served on the Governor's Committee on Children and Youth and the Governor's Commission on the Administration of Justice.[citation needed]

Statewide office[edit]

In 2007, Illuzzi was mentioned by then State Senator Peter Shumlin (a Democrat) as a potential independent candidate for governor.[2]

In 2012, Illuzzi chose to run for State Auditor, as Republican incumbent Tom Salmon was retiring. He lost in the general election to Democratic and Progressive candidate Doug Hoffer. Illuzzi had reportedly considered running as an independent. He had some endorsements from labor unions, and had hoped that would make voters not see him as a typical Republican. He said after the election, "It was a tsunami for Democrats... I can sense that running as a Republican was a real liability."[3]

Controversy[edit]

In 1993, Illuzzi received a six-month suspension of his law license for filing three complaints to the Judicial Conduct Board against Vermont Judge David Suntag. The complaints related to Judge Suntag's scheduling Essex County cases in other courtrooms. During the fifth month of his suspension, the Vermont Supreme Court and the Vermont Professional Conduct Board found that Illuzzi had made unfounded complaints against a trial judge, and his law license suspension was continued. He had his license restored in 1998.[4]

The Vermont Supreme Court, over the years, has attempted to close some of the more rural courthouses.[citation needed] Essex County has always been on the list. In 1992, responding to appeals from Essex County's assistant judges that Judge David Suntag was hearing Essex County family court cases as far away as Chelsea, over 100 miles (160 km) away, Senator Illuzzi inserted a provision in that year’s Capital Construction Bill[5] that read included the sentence: "No Essex Family Court cases shall be heard at any other location, except Guildhall."[6]Paul Lefebvre, Barton Chronicle, A day in Vince Illuzzi’s quest for statewide office, October 23, 2012

Judge Suntag subsequently scheduled cases elsewhere. Senator Illuzzi, on his Senate letterhead, then filed complaints against Suntag with the Judicial Conduct Board. The leading complaints related to Suntag's continued refusal to hold Family Court hearings in the Essex County at the court house in Guildhall. Senator Illuzzi was not involved in those cases as an attorney.

The Judicial Conduct Board of the Vermont Supreme Court dismissed the complaints against Suntag and filed a complaint against Illuzzi for filing them. Since Illuzzi was a lawyer, the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over his law license.

The Professional Conduct Board, which is appointed by the Supreme Court, investigated the Court's complaint and recommended Illuzzi be disbarred for filing the complaint in his capacity as a state senator against Suntag. Judge Suntag's wife, the Bar Counsel, prosecuted Illuzzi. The charges were that Senator Illuzzi violated the Vermont Bar's Disciplinary Rule DR 8-101(A)(2) (lawyer who holds public office shall not use position to influence tribunal to act in favor of himself or client); DR 1-102(A)(5) (a lawyer shall not engage in conduct prejudicial to administration of justice); and DR 1 -102(A)(7)(lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on fitness to practice law). Illuzzi stipulated to an 18 month suspension with the expectation that his stipulations would mitigate the Supreme Court's complaint, but the Professional Conduct Board recommended disbarment.

Illuzzi appealed the Board’s recommendation to the Vermont Supreme Court and he asked that Justices Gibson, Dooley, Johnson and Morse recuse themselves because they filed the complaint and would be sitting in judgment of the resolution of the complaint, and other reasons. When Dooley, Johnson and Morse refused, he sued them in U.S. District Court. The presiding federal district court judge delayed ruling on the case until Dooley, Johnson and Morse recused themselves (164 VT 623). A substitute Supreme Court then agreed to a negotiated 18-month suspension of his law license (165 VT 598). In ratifying the suspension, the Supreme Court noted that Illuzzi had been guilty of five prior disciplinary offenses.[7]

As of February 9, 1998, Attorney Illuzzi had completed all requirements for reinstatement of his license to practice law, including successful completion of an ethics course and support from other lawyers and judges. However, the Court refused to sign the two-sentence reinstatement order until July 28, 1998. Three days later, the state's largest newspaper, The Burlington Free Press, editorialized that Illuzzi was being unfairly treated by the Supreme Court. The editorial was titled "Disorder in the court: Vermont's Supreme Court behaved in far too political and personal a fashion in the case of state Sen. Vincent Illuzzi." The editorial criticized the Court for its handling of the case and commented: "The court restored Illuzzi's license to practice law this week, but that is no more remedy than a bank robber's returning the cash. Illuzzi, who never deserved to lose his license in the first place, should have had it back six months ago."[8]

However, the General Assembly came close to not reelecting Suntag for another six-year term of office.[citation needed] (Vermont judges are reelected by the General Assembly every six years.)[9]

Illuzzi was profiled in a Boston Globe article by Jon Margolis shortly after he was reinstated to practice.[10]

Non-governmental service[edit]

A member of the Board of Trustees of Vermont Law School, Illuzzi is also a member of the Assembly of Overseers of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Post Senate career[edit]

After losing the 2012 election for Auditor, Illuzzi resumed practicing law full time. He also advises clients on legislation and government relations.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, Advisory Board Member biography, Vincent Illuzzi, 2013
  2. ^ "Perspective Check on Illuzzi". 
  3. ^ Hallenbeck, Terri. "Hoffer's win surprising to many: 'Forgotten man' to become Vt. auditor" Burlington Free Press November 7, 2012
  4. ^ Jon Margolis, VTDigger, Will Illuzzi’s past hurt his chances – and should it?, June 28, 2012
  5. ^ Act 256 of 1992, Sec. 31g
  6. ^ jvwalt, Green Mountain Daily, Illuzzi Whitewash Streak over: Mark Johnson FTW, March 12, 2012
  7. ^ "SUPREME COURT DOCKET NO. 95-346 JUNE TERM, 1996". Retrieved 2010-10-24. 
  8. ^ The text of the full Free Press editorial read as follows: "Reasonable people would think, with the state Supreme Court under political attack, the justices would make a point of excessive scrupulousness these days. Instead, the court's mishandling of state Sen. Vincent Illuzzi reveals shabby procedures at best, and a susceptibility to petty politics at worst. It does not demonstrate the professionalism and impartiality Vermonters expect from the state's highest court. The court restored Illuzzi's license to practice law this week, but that is no more remedy than a bank robber's returning the cash. Illuzzi, who never deserved to lose his license in the first place, should have had it back six months ago. Not that the Essex-Orleans Republican is a saint. A controversial lawmaker, he remains one of Vermont's most censured lawyers, and some of these reprimands were deserved. However, in 1993 he filed a valid complaint that Judge David Suntag was ignoring the state law requiring him to hear Essex County family court cases in that county. Suntag was making families, lawyers, witnesses and assistant judges trek to him instead. Parties in one child support case, for example, had to drive 100 miles for a hearing. The Supreme Court offhandedly dismissed the complaint against Suntag, and initiated action against Illuzzi. His prosecution was a masterpiece of character assassination, from inviting testimony by political opponents, to reviewing 10 years of Illuzzi's financial records, to asking witnesses whether he had ever molested children. The prosecution even sent Illuzzi a bill for the cost of its investigation. The result: Illuzzi lost his license to practice law. As for the dismissed complaint, at least three other senators raised the same issue without paying a penalty. When Suntag faced reappointment by the Legislature, he came within a dozen votes of being fired. The American Bar Association has since recommended that Vermont overhaul its lawyer discipline system. The injustice did not end there; it lasted till this week. Illuzzi's suspension required him to take an ethics course and pass an exam, both of which he did long ago. He applied for reinstatement properly, last year. Favorable witnesses at his hearing last winter included lawyers and current and former judges. No one spoke against him. The deadline for action was Feb. 9. Yet the court did not return his license till July 28. That is not merely a case of denying a man his livelihood without justification; it is also a violation of the court's own rules. Only after news accounts last week did the five justices sign the two-sentence reinstatement. Part of the purpose of the court system is to stand apart from political concerns and provide just resolution of disputes. In this instance, from 1993 till now, the court has fallen far below that standard."
  9. ^ USLegal, State-by-State Summary of Judicial Selection, accessed April 6, 2013
  10. ^ "Rascal King of the North". The Boston Globe. 
  11. ^ Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press, VSEA hires Howard, Illuzzi, January 2, 2013

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