Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bridger v. Systo

Supreme Court of Vermont

November 2, 2018

Anthony M. Bridger
v.
Sarah J. Systo

          On Appeal from Superior Court, Orleans Unit, Civil Division Scot L. Kline, J.

          Kelly Green, Prisoners' Rights Office, Montpelier, for Petitioner-Appellant/Cross-Appellee.

          Thomas J. Donovan, Jr., Attorney General, and Andrew M. Gilbertson, Assistant Attorney General, Waterbury, for Respondent-Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

          PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Skoglund, Robinson, Eaton and Carroll, JJ.

          REIBER, C.J.

         ¶ 1. Following the trial court's denial of his habeas corpus petition, Anthony Bridger (petitioner) requests that this Court grant him credit for time served prior to his arraignment on charges of burglary in Rutland County. In a cross-appeal, the State asks this Court to reverse the trial court's decision granting petitioner one day of credit. We reverse the trial court's decision regarding the one day of credit, and we otherwise affirm the trial court's decision.

         ¶ 2. On January 27, 2009, Vermont State Police in Bennington County arrested and detained petitioner regarding alleged burglaries in that county. Later that day, petitioner was transported to the Rutland State Police Barracks, where police questioned him regarding burglaries he confessed to having committed in Rutland County. As the trial court noted, the record does not make clear whether petitioner received a citation for the Rutland charges at that time.[1] The record is clear that petitioner was not arrested, charged, or arraigned on the Rutland burglaries until later.[2]

         ¶ 3. After petitioner's questioning with the Rutland police, he was transported to Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility, where he was placed in the custody of the Department of Corrections (DOC) just before one in the morning on January 28, 2009. He was arraigned in Bennington County that same day, January 28, on one charge of burglary for the conduct that petitioner allegedly committed there. The court set bail at $5000. Petitioner did not post bail. The court accordingly issued a mittimus for pretrial detention on the Bennington charge with the DOC. The State dismissed the Bennington charges on September 11, 2009. The Bennington docket sheet makes no mention of the Rutland burglaries.

         ¶ 4. Meanwhile, despite the Rutland police questioning in January 2009, the State did not file charges against petitioner for the Rutland burglaries until July 16, 2009, and he was not arraigned on those charges until July 28, 2009. The court set bail at $10, 000 on the Rutland charges. When petitioner did not post bail, the Rutland court issued a mittimus for pretrial detention with the DOC. Petitioner was ultimately convicted and sentenced on the Rutland charges, and he received credit for time served beginning on July 28, 2009.

         ¶ 5. Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus with the trial court in September 2018. He argued that he was entitled to credit for time served beginning on January 27, 2009, the date he was questioned with regard to the Rutland burglaries, rather than beginning on July 28, 2009, the date of his arraignment for those charges. If correct, petitioner was past the maximum date on his sentence for the Rutland burglaries, enabling him to be transferred to New York to begin serving a consecutive sentence there. The trial court determined that petitioner failed to show he had been held in custody "in connection with" the Rutland charges between January 28, 2009, and July 28, 2009, as required by statute.[3] See 13 V.S.A. § 7031(b) (2009). However, the court determined that petitioner had been held in custody in connection with the Rutland charges on January 27, 2009, and it accordingly granted petitioner one additional day of credit.

         ¶ 6. Petitioner appeals the trial court's decision, requesting the additional days of credit between January 28, 2009, and July 28, 2009. The State cross-appeals, arguing the court erred in granting credit for January 27, 2009. We review the trial court's decision without deference. See State v. Kenvin, 2013 VT 104, ¶ 20, 195 Vt. 166, 87 A.3d 454 ("When the sentencing court is presented with a request for credit for time spent in custody under § 7031, the calculation involves a legal question. The Court reviews questions of law de novo." (citation omitted)), overruled on other grounds by State v. Byam, 2017 VT 47, ¶ 20, ___ Vt. ___, 172 A.3d 171. The petitioner bears the burden to show he is entitled to relief. See Sherwin v. Hogan, 136 Vt. 606, 608, 401 A.2d 895, 896 (1979) ("It is the familiar holding of our cases that it is the petitioner seeking relief who has the burden of demonstrated entitlement to remedy, whether the grounds be constitutional or some lesser error.").

         ¶ 7. The language of § 7031(b) then in effect requires the trial court to "give the person credit toward service of his or her sentence for any days spent in custody in connection with the offense for which sentence was imposed." 13 V.S.A. § 7031(b) (2009). The statute's purpose "is to ensure that offenders unable to make bail do not serve a longer sentence than more affluent defendants who are able to make bail and avoid pretrial incarceration." State v. Blondin, 164 Vt. 55, 57, 665 A.2d 587, 589 (1995). Because it is "remedial in nature," the provision "is entitled to a liberal construction." Marden v. Walton, 142 Vt. 204, 207, 455 A.2d 321, 322 (1982). However, as with all statutory interpretation, we must "enforce it according to its terms" and "may not expand the language or the plain meaning of [the] statute." Id. (quotation omitted).

         ¶ 8. We first address petitioner's argument that he is entitled to credit for time served between January 28, 2009, and July 28, 2009. Petitioner relies on State v. LeClair, 2013 VT 114, 195 Vt. 295, 88 A.3d 1186, and State v. Blondin, 164 Vt. at 55, 665 A.2d at 587.[4] Both cases involved a single period of pretrial detention but two different sentences against which the defendant sought credit. In Blondin, we held:

[W]hen a defendant is incarcerated based on conduct that leads both to revocation of probation or parole and to conviction on new charges, the time spent in jail before the second sentence is imposed should be credited toward only the first sentence if the second sentence is imposed consecutively, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.