Mayo v. State

In Mayo v. State, 138 Vt. 419, 415 A.2d 1061 (Vt. 1980) Mayo, a county sheriff, "brought suit against the State of Vermont for legal expenses incurred in the defense of impeachment proceedings against him . . . in the legislature," id. at 1061. Because he was acquitted, Mr. Mayo sought reimbursement under 3 V.S.A. 1101(a), which obligated the State to defend employees "in any action or suit against a state employee for alleged damage, injury, loss or deprivation of rights arising from an act or omission to act in the performance of the employee's official duties, other than an action or suit resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle or the service of civil process . . . ." Mayo, 415 A.2d at 1061. In its opinion affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the State, the Vermont Supreme Court stated: "As the trial court correctly concluded, the statutory terms "action or suit" do not, in their plain meaning, encompass an impeachment proceeding. At most quasi-judicial in nature, it is a constitutionally established procedure before the legislature, which has sole power in this respect. Vt. Const., Ch. II, 58. The judgment rendered extends only to removal from office and future disqualification. This is not a "suit" or an "action," which terms connote the demand of a right in a court of justice, or in some tribunal as a condition precedent to giving a court jurisdiction of the subject matter. Herald & Globe Association v. Clere Clothing Co., 86 Vt. 141, 147, 84 A. 23, 26 (1912). Neither is it based upon alleged damage, injury, loss or deprivation of rights as required by the statute." Mayo, 415 A.2d at 1062.