Gravel & Shea PC

October 2017

Gravel & Shea Helps Secure Major Public Records Act Victory


Gravel & Shea Partner Bob Hemley claimed a win for government transparency last week. Representing a number of media clients, Hemley submitted an Amicus brief in the case of Toensing v. State of Vermont, which the Vermont Supreme Court decided on October 20, 2017.

In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Attorney General—and in the future, all state agencies—must search the private e-mail servers of their employees when responding to a Public Records Act request. The case arose when, after receiving a request for documents related to allegations of improper campaign finance activities, the Attorney General’s office denied access to private e-mails.

At trial, the Attorney General argued that private e-mails are not subject to search, and the Civil Division of the Chittenden County Superior Court concurred. At oral argument, the Attorney General backed off his original position but maintained that the burden of demonstrating the necessity of a search should fall to the requester. The Supreme Court strongly disagreed.

As Hemley’s Amicus brief argued, the Supreme Court’s decision makes clear that private e-mails used for government business are public records and that state employees are required to produce them in response to a records request. To read the Supreme Court’s full decision, click here. For more on the Attorney General’s response to the decision, click here.

Super Lawyers Recognizes 12 Gravel & Shea Attorneys

Super Lawyers is a prestigious legal ranking organization that uses a rigorous, peer-reviewed model to identify lawyers at the top of their field.  Attorneys attract the attention of Super Lawyers through nominations by their peers, third-party feedback and surveys of managing partners. The Super Lawyers staff then performs independent research into the attorneys’ activities, including verdicts, awards, educational presentations and work within the community. Finally, the candidates are reviewed by a blue ribbon panel made up of their peers (top attorneys in the same area) for final inclusion in the Super Lawyers list.

Five percent of the attorneys in Vermont are recognized by Super Lawyers and 2.5% of the attorneys are designated as Rising Stars. In addition, Robert Hemley was once again named as one of the “Top 100 New England Attorneys” in Super Lawyers.

The 2017 Gravel & Shea recognized Super Lawyers are:

Jeanne C. Blackmore
Heather Rider Hammond
Robert B. Hemley
William A. Mason, IV
Jerome F. O’Neill
Robert F. O’Neill
Robert H. Rushford

We are proud to have excellent young attorneys at Gravel & Shea. Five were chosen as Super Lawyers Rising Stars for 2017. These are picked from Vermont lawyers under 40 or practicing fewer than 10 years. This year’s Rising Stars are:

Livia K. DeMarchis
Pauline Law
Daniel J. Martin
Ethan B. McLaughlin
Navah C. Spero

To find out more about Super Lawyers and Gravel & Shea’s recognized attorneys, click here.