Bill Sorrell against the world

Hm. The People’s Lawyer, Attorney General Bill Sorrell, has some big-time reservations about a proposal to allow greater public access to records of criminal investigations. He’d like to keep state law just the way it is, according to VTDigger:

In testimony to lawmakers on Thursday, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell delivered a spirited defense of keeping criminal investigation records largely closed to the public.

Seems he has some privacy concerns. Or so he says.

Problem is, this isn’t some left-wing radical fever dream; the openness proposal comes from none other than Governor Shumlin.

And it’s based entirely on the well-established and thoroughly tested federal rules for disclosure, as we reported on January 4:

Shumlin would like the Legislature to adopt existing federal standards for releasing such information, which state that “records of criminal investigation can only be withheld if disclosure would result in specific harm.”

There’s another advantage to accepting the federal guidelines: “There’s a large body of record around the federal guidelines that will clarify when something should be disclosed and when it can’t be disclosed.”

Allen Gilbert of ACLU-VT supports the legislation. And Senator Dick Sears, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who is not known as a transparency firebrand, says he is leaning toward the Shumlin proposal.

But wait, there’s more:

The law enforcement community, which sometimes opposes opening public records, supports the Shumlin proposal. An attorney for the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state police, said her department has supported a move to the federal standard since early 2011.

All righty then. On one side we have Governor Shumlin, the federal government, the Vermont ACLU, and the law enforcement community.

On the other side, singing a plaintive rendition of “All By Myself”: Bill Sorrell.  

3 thoughts on “Bill Sorrell against the world

  1. …his office in the handling of certain cases or procedure?  I think the rotten SOB has his own reasons for opposing this.  

  2. Today’s Free Press editorial opens this way:

    Vermont law enforcement has a problem with transparency and his name is Bill Sorrell.

    Soga goes on to remind readers that immediately post-primary

    […] Sorrell cloaked himself in the mantel [sic*] of transparency, saying he was open to the idea of Vermont adopting the federal guidelines if that’s what the legislature wanted to do.

    [*Mantel is the shelf above a fireplace; mantle is a sleeveless garment or cloak. I’m reasonably sure Aki Soga meant the garment, although it is amusing to think of Sorrell walking around with a heavy block of (transparent?!) granite or marble on his back.]

    Hah! “The Mantle of Transparency” sounds more like the Cloak of Invisibility, as in wanting to make sure his records are invisible to the public.

    Soga credits Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan (who threw a scare into Sorrell in the Democratic primary) for campaigning on the need for more transparency, and closes with this thought:

    Vermont appears poised to take one more step toward a more open government. Attorney General Bill Sorrell needs to stop trying to block the way.

    Good for Aki Soga in joining GMD in calling out AG Sorrell for his hypocrisy.


    Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks invisible. ~ John Milton  

  3. I totally agree. Sorrell has had a looong history of siding with law enforcement with every new pile of shit they create. And I also believe this is in part why they are like they are. From localities to the state, they all know their partner in crime, good-ol-boy Billy-Bob Sorrell will cover their criminal asses no matter the how or the why. He knows the records will prove him complicit with every ruling that police were not at fault and I’m sure there’s far more to hide.

    He hopefully will once and for all finally be exposed for the detriment & harms way he has placed & continues to place each & every law-abiding citizen in our state by giving tacit approval to law enforcement to use whatever force they please even when caught redhanded doing such things as tasering those shackled & in police custody, even behind bars.

    These officers do not protect & serve anyone but themselves. The use of tasers in VT amounts to cruel & unusual punishment. Their brutality which has allowed to reach even to the point of murdering an unarmed disturbed individual in need of intervention & mental health services speaks volumes.

    I did not vote Donovan mostly because of the vast law enforcement support he recieved, I saw him as becoming what Sorrell is now. Stance on VY was also very weak.

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