US Senate approves new Vt. federal judge 95-0

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved the nomination of Vermont Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Crawford to become the state’s next federal court judge by a vote of 95 to 0.

The approval of Crawford to take a spot on the U.S. District Court of Vermont came 35 days after he was nominated. In some cases it can take months or longer for a nominee to be approved.

"Justice Crawford came highly recommended, well qualified, and broadly experienced," said U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who recommended Crawford to President Barack Obama who made the nomination. "He’s a well-grounded Vermonter and a good fit for Vermont and our federal court."

Vermont’s other U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, said Crawford is well-liked and admired by other judges and the lawyers who practiced before him in state court.

"I am confident that he will be a fair and impartial federal judge and that everyone in his courtroom will be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve," Sanders said.

Crawford was nominated by Obama on May 19. His nomination was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 12.

Crawford, 59, served more than a decade as a superior court judge before being nominated last year to the state Supreme Court.

He will replace Judge William Sessions III, who has taken senior status, a kind of semi-retirement.


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It’s unclear how long it will be before Crawford takes up the gavel in his new job.

Police: Man arrested in fake bear attack report

MILTON (AP) -- Police have made an arrest in connection with the report of a bear attack in Milton that never happened.

Police told the Burlington Free Press that 28-year-old Lucas Gingras was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of arson, reckless endangerment and domestic assault.

Authorities say Gingras told them on June 18 that a bear and two cubs had attacked him and 44-year-old Ladonna Merriman at the camp where they were staying and a camp stove got knocked over and set the cabin on fire.

Merriman was serious injured and Gingras received minor injuries.

Police later said they found no evidence of a bear and that drugs may have been involved.

Gingras is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday. It was not immediately known if he is being represented by a lawyer.

Man shot in possible drug dispute recovering

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION (AP) -- A 19-year-old New Jersey man shot in a Vermont dispute about a possible heroin theft has been transferred to his home state for his recovery.

Joseph Atkinson, originally from Union City, was shot in the torso June 11 during a confrontation in Springfield, Vermont, with three others allegedly over stolen drugs.

Two men have been held without bail in connection with the shooting. The Eagle Times reports Atkinson was transferred to a medical facility in New Jersey until Vermont authorities feel he’s stable enough to face possible drug-related charges stemming from the shooting. David Cahill, deputy state’s attorney with Windsor County, said it’s likely Vermont authorities will seek to extradite Atkinson, just not right now.

It wasn’t immediately known if Atkinson had a lawyer.

Vermont Gas gets final permit for pipeline

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont Gas Systems Inc. says it has received the final permit needed to start construction on the first phase of a national gas pipeline through parts of western Vermont to New York.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted the permit to the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project.

The first phase of the project will transport natural gas from Colchester to Middlebury. The second phase, which is now being considered by the Vermont Public Service Board, would extend the pipeline to parts of Middlebury, Cornwall, Shoreham and on to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, New York.