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Vermont Supreme Court Rules 2014 Traffic Stop Violated State Constitution

The exterior of the Vermont Supreme Court.
John Dillon
/
VPR File
On Friday, Vermont's highest court ruled in favor of Gregory Zullo, who was pulled over and had his car seized by Vermont State Police in 2014.

On Friday, Vermont's highest court ruled in favor of Gregory Zullo, of Rutland, in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU lawyers alleged Zullo, who is African-American, was racially profiled when he was pulled over by a Vermont State Police trooper in 2014 and later had his car seized by police.

The court's ruling states that the traffic stop violated Zullo's constitutional rights. Justices also said Zullo can now seek damages over that violation.

Montpelier-based attorney Dan Richardson runs the SCOV Law Blog, which focuses on the Vermont Supreme Court. Richardson told VPR the decision means the state could now be held liable over constitutional violations, such as unlawful search and seizure.

"It's a fairly high standard and the court was somewhat cautious and conservative in its approach, but it does really open a door to these types of claims and a potential liability for the state," Richardson said.

The Vermont Supreme Court reversed a decision by a lower court, and returned parts of the case back to that lower court.

Attorney Dan Richardson spoke to VPR's Henry Epp about the Zullo decision. Listen to their conversation above.

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