Appeal from Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Criminal
Division March Term, 2016
Michael S. Kupersmith, J. Thomas J. Donovan, Jr., Chittenden
County State's Attorney, and Pamela Hall Johnson, Deputy
State's Attorney, Burlington, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
Matthew F. Valerio, Defender General, and Marshall Pahl,
Appellate Defender, Montpelier, for Defendant-Appellant.
PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund, Robinson and Eaton,
1. Defendant was convicted of simple assault in a jury trial
in December 2014 and placed on probation. He requests that
this Court reverse his conviction and remand for a new trial
because the trial court improperly defined reasonable doubt
for the jury, thus lowering the standard of proof. In the
alternative, he raises three arguments regarding his
probation conditions: (1) that they were unlawfully imposed
on the grounds that the sentencing court mistakenly believed
they were "standard"; (2) that the court failed to
inform defendant of the content of the conditions at
sentencing; and (3) that the imposed individual conditions
were overbroad and vague, impermissibly delegated court
authority to his probation officer, were unrelated to his
offense, rehabilitation, or public safety, and were not
supported by factual findings. We affirm defendant's
conviction and conditions H, J, and L, but remand on
condition I and strike all the other complained-of
2. Defendant was tried for simple assault in a jury trial on
December 15, 2014, stemming from an incident at a protest at
Vermont Gas headquarters in May 2014. In charging the jury,
the trial judge informed the jurors that the State was
obligated to prove defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable
doubt, stating that:
Few things in life are absolutely certain. To say that you
believe something beyond a reasonable doubt is to say that
you are convinced of it with great certainty. But proof
beyond a reasonable doubt does not require you to be
absolutely or 100 percent certain. A reasonable doubt may
arise from the evidence or from the lack of evidence.
Defendant did not object to this instruction.
3. The jury returned a guilty verdict. Defendant was
sentenced in a hearing on March 13, 2015. The state argued
for fourteen days of incarceration, while the defense
requested a fine or suspended sentence. No evidence was
presented, and no mention of probation was made. Ultimately,
the court imposed a sentence of three to six months,
suspended but for twenty days of work crew, and a $300 fine
and a surcharge. The court also placed defendant on
probation, imposing-without naming or
describing-"standard conditions A through N, and also
condition P", which are as follows:
A. You shall notify your probation officer within 48 hours if
you are arrested or given a citation for a new offense.
B. You must not be convicted of another crime.
C. You must regularly work at a job or look for work, if your
probation officer tells you to do so. You must get job
training if your probation officer tells you to do.
D. You must regularly work at a community service job if the
court orders you to do so.
E. You must support your dependents and meet other family
F. You must meet with your probation officer or designee
whenever he/she tells you to do so.
G. If you change your address or move, you must tell your
probation officer within two days.
H. If you change or lose your job, you must tell your
probation officer within two days.
I. You cannot leave the State without written permission from
your probation officer.
J. Upon request, and without delay, you must allow the
probation officer to visit you wherever you are staying.
K. If the probation officer or the court orders you to go to
any counseling or training program, you must do so. You must
participate to the ...