Ruminations, 17 VTBJ, Spring 2017-#14

AuthorPaul S. Gillies, Esq.


No. Vol. 43 No. 1 Pg. 14

Vermont Bar Journal

Spring, 2017

Time In Law By Number

Paul S. Gillies, Esq.

What a difference a day makes.

Maria Grever1

Lately, deadlines scare me into doing everything early. When the day something is due springs up unexpectedly, I either beg for more time or produce the answer, response, or reply under pressure, motivated by guilt and fear, but I’d rather not have that happen again. Reaching the age when those emotions are not as easily managed as when I was younger, I have decided to face the numbers directly, hoping to control them, rather than be controlled by them.

There are, after all, consequences to lateness. Some deadlines are so serious that failing to meet them results in disaster, the loss of the right to appeal or challenge a decision by a public official. Others are soft, where a statute gives a deadline for something but does not include a provision as to the consequences, such as a default. In those cases, the deadline merely gives rise to a right to petition a court to order that a hearing be held.2

In the name of our own peace of mind, then, let’s start counting, beginning with the shortest deadline and aging to the longest. This is not a comprehensive taxonomy of deadlines.

Ten Seconds

Your opponent has objected, and the court turns to you for a response. “Counselor, what do you have to say?”

Rufus Choate once said that a lawyer’s only vacation is the period between having asked a question and the answer.3

Two Hours

This one is historical, but it sets the clock. The appeal period from a decision of a Justice of the Peace, before the Vermont Constitution removed that office's judicial powers, was two hours. First adopted in 1787, this remained the rule until 1974.4 Just enough time to take a walk around the town to kick a few stones and decide whether to let something rest or run the dispute up the appeal ladder.

Twelve Hours

Candidates and parties may request an opportunity to review the checklist on election day up to two times during the voting, when it’s convenient for the election officials, if the request is made at least 12 hours before the opening of the polls.5

Mobile home park owners may enter a mobile home in the park with the owner’s consent, “which shall not be unreasonably withheld,” between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m, on no less than 12 hours’ notice.6

Town fire wardens must issue written permits to kindle a fire in the open air within 12 hours of granting the permission.7

When deer damage crops or plantation trees, they may be killed, provided the person can prove in writing that damage had occurred. The person, having wounded or killed a deer, must file a written report with a game warden within 12 hours, giving the details of the incident.8

Twelve hours is also the deadline for reporting the discharge of untreated sewage and wastewater by operations of wastewater treatment facilities to the secretary of natural resources.9

Twenty-Four Hours

Twenty-four hours is the minimum time for warning a special meeting of a public body, by posting notice in three public places, as well as direct notice to each member of the body either orally or in writing.10

A driver of a commercial vehicle found with any measurable or detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system is immediately placed “out-of-service” for 24 hours and offered a test, which if refused disqualifies the driver from driving a commercial vehicle.11

Impounders of beasts found within their enclosure doing damage may impound the beasts but must give notice to the owner, if known, within 24 hours.12 Notification to the town poundkeeper within 24 hours is required to supply sufficient security to indemnify the impounder of liability for detaining the beast and supplying it with food and drink while in the pound.13

Internet dating services have 24 hours to notify all Vermont members who have previously received and responded to an on-site message of a banned member to alert them to the user name, identification number, or other profile identifier of such a member, the fact that a member has been banned, a prohibition against sending money or personal financial information, and a hyperlink to information that clearly and conspicuously addresses the subject of how to avoid being defrauded by another member of the service.14

Persons causing or contributing to a generalized condition of air pollution are given notice of a hearing to reduce or discontinue the emissions no later than 24 hours before the hearing.15

Defendants ordered to remain at a pre-approved residence as part of home confinement furloughs are allowed authorized absences that commence no later than 24 hours following notification to the prosecutor’s office.16

Health care providers and pharmacists must report all cases of persons exhibiting any illness, disease, injury, or death identified by the Department of Health as likely caused by a weapon of mass destruction to the Commissioner of Health within 24 hours of discovery of the conditions.[17] The same deadline is applied to discovery of a reportable, communicable sickness or dis-ease.18

Civil actions of those who sell or furnish tobacco products to those under 18 years of age shall be brought within 24 hours of the occurrence of the alleged violation.[19]

Persons with explosive licenses must report thefts or losses to the Commissioner of Public Safety within 24 hours after discovery.20

Persons making expenditures for any one mass media activity of $500 or more within 45 days of a primary, general, county, or local election must file a mass media report with the Secretary of State within 24 hours of the expenditure.21

Within 24 hours of the conclusion of any professional boxing match the promoter must file a written report indicating the result of each match and any problems encountered during the running of the match with the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation.22

Health care providers, school employees, and others must report all reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect to the Commissioner of Children and Families within 24 hours of the time the information is received or observed.[23]

Law enforcement officers who encounter a person who is incapacitated may take him or her into protective custody, which in no event shall exceed 24 hours.24

A physician must furnish a death certificate within 24 hours of the death, including a true statement of the cause of death and other facts required on an official form.[25]

Retail dealers of cigarettes and tobacco products must affix proper stamps evidencing payment of taxes on the items within 24 hours of possession.26

Inmates of correctional facilities must be screened for signs of mental condition or psychiatric disability or disorder or serious functional impairment within 24 hours of admittance.27

Municipalities must restore water and sewer service to persons who have been disconnected or interrupted on account of failures to pay for these services within 24 hours of payment or an agreement to pay.28

Convicted vagrants who are unable to pay fines within 24 hours shall be imprisoned for as many days as twice the number of dollars in the sentence, including the costs of detention and commitment.29

Trappers hunting hare or rabbits must visit their traps at least once every 24 hours.30

These statutes requiring twenty-four hours to do something indicate the most urgent of priorities in Vermont law. There are consequences for failing to make this deadline.

Thirty-Six Hours

Operators must file reports for motor-boat accidents within 36 hours with the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.31

If the appropriate state or local authority fails to assume responsibility for decedent’s remains of a written notice from a funeral director or crematory operator, when there is no surviving family member after reasonable efforts to locate them, the director or operator may determine the final disposition of the remains.32

Physicians or those filling out death certificates must deliver a copy to the family of the deceased or undertaker within 36 hours after death.33

There is a 36-hour period during which a parent whose consent to the adoption of a minor is required may execute a consent or relinquishment, and a 21-day period following for revocation.34

Forty-Eight Hours

Power companies must mark all underground utility facilities within 48 hours, exclusive of weekends or holidays, after receiving notice of proposed excavation on property.[35]

When the director of professional regulation takes final disciplinary action against a boxer, promoter or manager, the director must report the results to the Association of Boxing Commissions within 48 hours.36

For 48 hours before a regatta or race and 48 hours thereafter, motorboats shall be muffed, reducing the maximum machine operating noise level to no more than 82 decibels at 50 feet, in the normal operating environment.37

All aircraft accidents resulting in personal injury or damage to property must immediately notify the Agency of Transportation and within 48 hours file a report of the accident.38

Lobbyists must register with the Secretary of State within 48 hours of commencing lobbying activities, and lobbyist employers have the same requirement within 48 hours of engaging a lobbyist.39

Three Days

You must report accidents involving ATVs, snowmobiles, or motor vehicles causing damage or injury within 72 hours of the incident.40

The custodian of a public record has three business days from the date of the request to identify the records to be withheld as exempt from the Public Records law. This notice must include the asserted statutory basis for the claim and a notice of a right to appeal.41

Sex offenders must report their change of address, enrollment or separation from a postsecondary educational institution, change of employment, change of name, or moving to a residence with a child under 18...

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