Addison County prosecutor loses her law license

“The issue here is solely about whether (Vekos) responded to a lawful demand for information under Rule 8.1. She did not.”
— Supreme Court ruling

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Supreme Court suspended the law license of Addison County State’s Attorney Eva P. Vekos for her failure to properly respond to questions about her fitness following her arrest on a charge of driving while impaired. The high court issued the interim order on Wednesday.

St. Johnsbury Attorney David Sleigh, who represents Vekos, said Wednesday that he and his client are still willing to cooperate on the inquiry.

Sleigh said Wednesday morning that after getting the Supreme Court ruling, he emailed disciplinary prosecutor Jon Alexander to ask what information — besides privileged medical records — he was seeking. Sleigh said he’d not heard a response.

The Supreme Court, in its 4-page-plus ruling, said the medical records are not the issue. Rather, it was an inadequate response in the eyes of the high court.

“We note that this case is not about whether respondent’s medical records should be provided to Disciplinary Counsel. Should a question arise about whether certain records are privileged, the rules provide a process by which issues may be pursued,” the court said.

“The issue here is solely about whether respondent responded to a lawful demand for information under Rule 8.1. She did not,” the order, signed by the five justices, noted.

Vekos can continue to serve as Addison County State’s Attorney in a reduced role. Her two deputies would have to appear for court hearings in her cases. A state’s attorney in Vermont doesn’t have to be a lawyer.

The Supreme Court didn’t prescribe a specific length for the interim suspension.

Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos is arraigned on a DUI charge in Addison County Superior criminal court in Middlebury 2024. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Alexander, disciplinary counsel for the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board, began investigating Vekos after learning she’d been arrested on a DUI charge after arriving at a homicide scene in Bridport the night of Jan. 25.

Vekos was taken to the state police barracks in New Haven, where she refused to provide a court-approved breath test. She also wouldn’t submit to having her fingerprints and mugshot taken, police said. Vekos pleaded not guilty in Vermont Superior Court in Middlebury on Feb. 12.

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has stepped in to prosecute the Vekos case, which Chief Judge Thomas Zonay ordered moved to Chittenden County going forward.

Alexander had asked Sleigh to address the DUI charge and how it bears on the fitness of Vekos to practice law.

On Feb. 15, Sleigh provided a legal response and a copy of a press release about Vekos taking her medical leave.

The next day, Alexander emailed Sleigh to request “relevant health records and (to) perhaps speak to her treaters.” Sleigh didn’t immediately respond, the court said.

In a follow-up email 10 days later, Alexander said he might seek the interim suspension for failure to cooperate. Sleigh responded saying that Vekos “plans on returning to work soon” and “there’s no reason for you to examine her health records or speak to her treaters” because “she has no mental or physical issues that would impede her ability to practice law.”

The response was not good enough for Alexander. He pushed for “an explanation and related documentation of the medical reasons for the leave,” the court noted. Alexander also wanted a clarification about how soon Vekos would be back to work.

Alexander also wrote that he might contact medical providers used by Vekos. Sleigh maintains that would be improper.

Sleigh has said he attempted to have the inquiry moved to Vermont Superior Court where the legal process could play out before a judge and not leave it up to a state prosecutor.

Sleigh’s petition to the Vermont Supreme Court seeking the transfer was rejected in a written order by Associate Justice Karen Carroll without comment.

The whole court later agreed to hold a hearing on the case and arguments were conducted a week ago.

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