Former assistant judge under investigation

Three candidates will face off in general election for two Windham County ‘side judges’

BRATTLEBORO — Vermont State Police have confirmed they are investigating Patricia Duff, a former Windham County assistant judge who resigned earlier this summer.

State police spokesperson Adam Silverman declined to address the reason for the probe. News of the investigation was first reported by the Brattleboro Reformer.

Joyce McKeeman, an assistant judge in Orange County and the president of the Vermont Association of County Judges, told VTDigger in an Aug. 18 email that “the underlying allegations against [Duff] were related to financial irregularities.”

She declined to comment further.

Duff, a Democrat who held the assistant judge role since 2006, said in July that three bouts with COVID-19 and associated health issues prompted her to resign. Her health made coming to work difficult, she said.

“I should have been [at the courthouse] more, but I always kept up the county duties,” Duff said of the months leading up to her resignation.

Although Duff told VTDigger she would not seek re-election, her name appeared on the August primary ballot. On Thursday, she withdrew her name from the general election, according to the Vermont Secretary of State's Office.

Duff received $24.20 an hour for her work, according to the Vermont employee salary database.

Every Vermont county has two assistant or “side” judges, who create the annual budgets for their counties and work as finders of fact in civil and family court proceedings. They can oversee some types of hearings.

Assistant Windham County Judge Lamont Barnett - who is running for reelection as a Democrat - will face off in the general election against Windham County Clerk Mildred Barry, who is running as an independent.

Additionally, state Rep. Carolyn Partridge, D-Windham, who served 24 years in the Vermont House and who will leave the chamber at the end of her term in January, said she plans to run a write-in campaign for the seat.

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