Anthony M. Bridger
Sarah J. Systo
Appeal from Superior Court, Orleans Unit, Civil Division Scot
L. Kline, J.
Green, Prisoners' Rights Office, Montpelier, for
J. Donovan, Jr., Attorney General, and Andrew M. Gilbertson,
Assistant Attorney General, Waterbury, for
PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Skoglund, Robinson, Eaton and Carroll,
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
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. The record is
clear that petitioner was not arrested, charged, or arraigned
on the Rutland burglaries until later.
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
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,
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. 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
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