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'I Want To Be A Bartender': Vt. Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Skoglund On Retirement

Angela Evancie
Marilyn Skoglund sits at her desk 2018.

After serving on Vermont’s highest court for 22 years, Justice Marilyn Skoglund sent a letter to Gov. Phil Scott this week saying she’ll be stepping down this September.

Skoglund said she made the announcement of her retirement now, so the Judicial Nominating Board would have enough time to select someone to take over her position as soon as she leaves.

Listen to Skoglund’s full conversation with VPR’s Henry Epp above. Find some excerpts from their conversation below.

Politics of the court

Skoglund was appointed by Democratic Gov. Howard Dean. Now Scott will be tasked with appointing her replacement. She said she is not concerned about Scott picking someone simply based on their political party.

“It’s Vermont, I just don’t think any governor is going to risk a negative appearance for the Supreme Court by putting someone unqualified on the court,” Skoglund said. “So I’m not worried, he’ll do a good job.”

From sculpture to law

Without going to law school, Skoglund passed the bar. She was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court after a long stint in the Attorney General’s office, where she got hands on legal experience.

Skoglund said her background - she has a degree in fine arts and sculpture - has helped her think flexibly about law.

To hear more on Skoglund's past listen Brave Little State: "Where Are Vermont's 'Aging Hippies'?"

“In art, it taught me to think, I hate to say outside the box, but to come at issues from angles you wouldn’t normally think were appropriate paths to an answer in the law,” Skoglund said. “But I think I have a flexible mind and that I think comes from a fine arts background.”

What’s next?

Skoglund said she’ll miss the challenge of pulling apart legal arguments, but will be teaching a class at Middlebury College starting in January about state constitutional law. And she’s started taking Spanish classes. But come next spring, she’ll be looking for a job.

“I want to be a bartender, I think I would be a great bartender because I love to talk to people,” Skoglund said. “Other than that I’m going to need a job, a real job, come next March, April of 2020.”

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