Bennington County judge appointed to state Supreme Court

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MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott has appointed Judge William Cohen, who currently presides in Bennington County, to fill a vacancy on the Vermont Supreme Court, the governor's office announced Thursday.

Cohen, of Rutland, has served as a Vermont Superior Court judge for two decades and currently presides in Bennington and Rutland counties. He grew up in Rutland and, after graduating Rutland High School in 1975, spent a year as a chair lift operator for Killington Mountain Resorts before earning a B.A. from George Washington University and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.

"Bill understands the needs of Vermonters as well as the challenges facing the judiciary and the justice system," Scott said in the release. "Among a very strong candidate pool, Bill distinguished himself as someone with the right experience, temperament and character to serve the judiciary with excellence as an associate justice."

Cohen said in the release that he is "honored to serve the people of the State of Vermont and join an incredible team of justices on the Vermont Supreme Court."

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The judge began his law career as a deputy state's attorney. He later worked in private practice for two firms in Rutland before his Superior Court appointment in 1999.

Local law enforcement officials reacted favorably to the news.

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Bennington Police Department Chief Paul Doucette said he was "very pleased" with Scott's choice. Members of the department and the chief himself have had positive interactions with Cohen, Doucette said.

Cohen is "fair, he's responsible and he makes good decisions," Doucette said. "I think he thinks things through."

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Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage also called Cohen a good choice. Cohen listens to all sides of the argument and is respectful to the people in front of him, she said.

Cohen is "an avid participant in endurance sports, including biking, skiing and running," according to the news release.

When he is sworn in later this month by Scott, Cohen will replace Marilyn Skoglund, who retired in September, as an associate justice.

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