Christina Rainville is one of the few Vermont lawyers who has successfully argued a case before the United States Supreme Court, and she also has argued more than 20 cases before the Vermont Supreme Court, and has argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Rainville’s strategy? “Winning appeals requires more than just legal research and writing. Appellate cases are decided by a panel of judges, and the best lawyers focus on what arguments will prevail with which judges.”
In Vermont v. Brillon, 556 U.S. 81, 129 S Ct. 1283, 173 L. Ed. 2d 231 (2009), Rainville did exactly that. The Vermont Supreme Court had reversed Michael Brillon’s conviction for domestic assault, and barred a retrial, after finding that three years of delays caused by Brillon and his court-appointed lawyers violated Brillon’s 6th Amendment right to a speedy trial. Rainville picked up the case for the first time after the Vermont Supreme Court decision, and prepared a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court by focusing on winning over both the liberal and the conservative justices of the Court by developing distinct arguments directed to each side. Rainville argued to the conservative justices that it was outrageous to bar a retrial for a convicted felon who delayed his own case; and argued to the liberal justices that the Vermont Supreme Court decision created an unconstitutional disadvantage for indigent criminal defendants, because prosecutors could no longer grant extensions to indigent defendants because those extensions would be counted against the State, whereas defendants who paid for private counsel could continue to be allowed the time they needed to prepare for trial without the delays counting against the prosecution.
Not only did Rainville write a winning petition for certiorari, she also created new law. In an era where Supreme Court decisions in criminal cases are generally decided by a highly-divided Court with a 5/4 vote, Rainville obtained an extraordinary 7/2 decision in Brillon. The Brillon case has since become a landmark case in criminal law, and has been cited in more than 500 court opinions.
You can read about the Brillon case here:
Call us at (802) 885-2141, or email Christina Rainville.