Fenster begins new role as Superior Court judge

MIDDLEBURY — Incoming Gov. Phil Scott will soon be asked to appoint a new Addison County state’s attorney to replace incumbent David Fenster, who on Wednesday was sworn in as a new Vermont Superior Court judge.
Current Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Fenster’s judicial appointment on Dec. 22, in tandem with his selection of Rutland attorney Elizabeth Mann to take over Judge Kathleen Manley’s spot on the bench. Fenster is filling a newly created judgeship.
Fenster has served as the county’s top prosecutor since November 2009, when he replaced former longtime Addison County State’s Attorney John Quinn. He currently chairs the executive committee of the Department of State’s Attorneys. Prior to becoming state’s attorney, Fenster was a private practice lawyer at the Bennington law firm of Barr Sternberg Moss Lawrence Silver Saltonstall & Fenster. His practice involved civil litigation, domestic relations matters, and criminal defense.
Fenster served as a deputy state’s attorney in Bennington County from 1993 to 2005. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a Past President of the Vermont Bar Association. Fenster graduated from the University of Vermont and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He and his wife, Katree, live in Middlebury with their two children.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of Addison County as a state’s attorney,” Fenster said during a recent phone interview about his career transition.
“I am proud to have been part of a team,” he added of the cadre of “community justice partners” who help state’s attorneys successfully prosecute cases. That team includes his office staff and deputies, the Department for Children & Families, Court Diversion and local law enforcement agencies.
“We have done a lot of great work over the years, and I am proud to have been a part of it,” he said.
Fenster said he has for a long time aspired to be a judge and become a part of the judicial process from the other side of the bench.
“I am honored and humbled that the governor has given me this opportunity to serve Vermonters on the Superior Court,” Fenster said through a press release issued by the Shumlin administration. “Vermont’s judiciary has a strong tradition of ensuring that all litigants are treated with dignity and respect, that cases are handled with impartiality, and that all Vermonters have access to justice. I am grateful for the opportunity to join the judiciary in its work toward keeping the promise of that tradition.”
Now that he is sworn in, Fenster joins the other Vermont Superior Court judges who rotate, usually on an annual basis, to courthouses throughout the state.
State and local officials must now recruit new candidates interested in taking Fenster’s place as Addison County state’s attorney. The county’s Republican and Democratic committees are expected to forward a couple of names to Scott to consider. Scott will appoint a person to succeed Fenster until his current term expires in 2018, at which time anyone will be able to run for the job.
Longtime Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney Chris Perkett confirmed he is interested in the top job. He has already forwarded his résumé and cover letter to the Addison County Republican Committee, which backed Fenster in 2009. Perkett was among those who interviewed before the committee at that time.
Perkett next month will have served 13 years as a deputy in the Addison County prosecutor’s office. He replaced former Deputy State’s Attorney Stephanie Foley, who is now in private practice in Middlebury.
The office processes 600 to 700 new criminal cases every calendar year, according to Perkett.
“It’s bittersweet,” Perkett said of his opportunity to succeed Fenster, who he said did a great job and was a great colleague.
“I will miss working with him and chatting with him,” Perkett said.
That said, Perkett confirmed he is “very interested” in becoming the county’s new state’s attorney. He said he is looking forward to interviewing for the post when the county GOP Committee convenes. The group will meet next month on a date that has yet to be set, according to Addison County Republican Committee Chairman Jon Christiano.
In the meantime, Christiano is urging applicants to send their résumés and letters of interest “as soon as possible” to the committee at P.O. Box 8, New Haven, VT 05472.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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