Op/Ed

Editorial: County Dems have role in asking Vekos to resign

ANGELO LYNN

Two things are clear in the recent Vermont Supreme Court ruling that suspended the law license of Addison County State’s Attorney Eva Vekos: first, that Vekos failed to properly respond to a lawful request for information about her fitness to fulfill her duties; and second that she has betrayed the trust of Addison County voters.

The first issue is purely legal: After Vekos drove to a homicide scene in Bridport on the night of Jan. 25 while allegedly under the influence of alcohol, she was arrested at the scene by Vermont State Police and taken to state police barracks in New Haven. There she refused to provide a court-approved breath test, nor would she submit to having her fingerprints or mugshot taken. Vekos pleaded not guilty to the charges in Vermont Superior Court in Middlebury on Feb. 12.

Following that incident, disciplinary prosecutor Jon Alexander has been pursuing the case on behalf of the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board. Alexander had asked Vekos and her attorney to address how the DUI charge bears on her fitness to practice law. Not receiving a suitable answer (see story on Page 1A in today’s Addison Independent), the Supreme Court suspended her law license.

While she can no longer prosecute cases requiring a license, she can direct those cases to be handled by her deputies, therefore greatly reducing her workload, while adding more to her deputies. Nor is it required that a state’s attorney have a license to practice law. (It probably should, but it doesn’t.)

The DUI charge, however, isn’t the critical issue in terms of Vekos remaining on the job. One mistake shouldn’t be the sole reason to seek dismissal. 

But this isn’t the first example of her poor judgment. Rather, it’s the continued lack of good judgment that has created the perception of a person in power who shouldn’t be there.

Most of us can agree that deciding to drive to the scene of a homicide scene while allegedly under the influence, if that turns out to be true, is not good judgment. But neither were her published comments several weeks later in which she said she felt threatened by the behavior of local law enforcement officers and found it difficult to work with them. The comment demonstrated an inability to work with law enforcement and others in the human services sector, which is essential in her position.

Moreover, in a story reporter John Flowers wrote several weeks ago, he detailed several complaints of Vekos failing to affectively prosecute serious offenders, while others have criticized her inability to effectively manage the states attorney’s office. On each critical point, her response has not been reassuring.

That’s a serious problem. The role of the state’s attorney is to work with County Sheriffs and others to “seek justice in the prosecution of criminal offenses, child abuse and neglect cases, juvenile delinquencies, mental health proceedings and some other civil matters,” according to the state website, which continues: “Each State’s Attorney’s office works collaboratively with law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, victims and members of the public to seek justice in the cases that are investigated and prosecuted within each county.”

If that language seems overly bureaucratic, the ACLU paints a more defined picture. “State’s Attorneys,” the organization writes, “have enormous power over the lives of Vermonters entangled in the criminal justice system. They choose who gets charged and who is free to go, who gets diverted to treatment for substance use, and who goes to jail. They choose whether to seek the maximum or minimum sentence. They choose whether or not to prosecute police officers and government officials for misconduct. The State’s Attorney is also an elected official, which means they are ultimately accountable to the voters.”

That also means, just like a Sherriff who has violated the public’s trust, it’s difficult to seek dismissal.

Vekos was elected in November 2022. She has served just over one year of a four-year term. In that position she earns $132,225.60 per year. 

It is clear she is not the candidate voters thought she was when the county Democratic Party promoted her for the office. That same political party should now actively advocate for her resignation. Addison County residents deserve a state’s attorney who exercises good judgment on such critical issues that affect our collective safety and sense of justice.

Angelo Lynn

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