February 2009 - Vermont Bar Examination Essay Questions

[Question I]
[Question II]
[Question III]
[Question IV]
[Question V]
[Question VI]

QUESTION I -  February 2009

QUESTION II -  February 2009

QUESTION III -  February 2009

QUESTION IV -  February 2009

            Ms. Able runs Justice for All Theater Group, a troupe that presents performance art around Vermont and has provided floats and performers in local parades.

            Last week, after confirming that the space was available, Ms. Able timely applied for a permit to perform on the Statehouse lawn in Montpelier on July 4, 2009.  The lawn is owned by the State and is located directly in front of the Vermont Statehouse, which houses the Vermont Legislature.  The Office of State Property Permitting issues permits for use of the lawn.  In recent years, that office has permitted use of the Statehouse lawn for kid-friendly events, private fund-raising events, and food festivals.  Many candidates for public office have also received permits to hold press conferences there.

            In its July performance, Justice for All intends to highlight the exploitation and poverty plaguing many children and young women in third-world countries.  Per the description in their permit application, the troupe wants to present a performance art piece graphically depicting the suffering of third-world women and children in stark terms.  Ms. Able plans to participate in this performance.  She wants to set up on the Statehouse lawn in order to maximize the impact and reach of the performance, especially given that the summer crowds in Montpelier will be at their height.  The troupe intends to present its performance every hour from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

            The Office of State Property Permitting denies the application, citing a regulation prohibiting the use of the Statehouse lawn for “offensive or violent displays.” 

            Ms. Able believes that her free speech rights under the federal constitution are violated by the denial of her request for a permit.  She also points to Chapter 1, Article 13, of the Vermont Constitution, which provides: 

            That the people have a right to freedom of speech, and of      writing and publishing their sentiments, concerning the      transactions of government, and therefore the freedom of the press ought not to be restrained.

            Ms. Able will lose a lot of money if the program is not permitted to go forward, because as is customary in her industry she has already paid the performers for their participation in the event. 

 1.      Analyze whether Ms. Able’s federal constitutional rights have been violated.  Include in your analysis a discussion of the scope of the right in this particular case, as well as an analysis of whether and how it has been violated.

2.      Does your analysis of Ms. Able’s constitutional rights pursuant to the Vermont Constitution differ from your analysis under the United States Constitution?  Discuss.

Pursuant to the Vermont Constitution, can Ms. Able pursue a private cause of action against the State for money damages?  Discuss.

QUESTION V -  February 2009

            The financial crisis has trickled down to Bart.  He has recently lost his job.

            Prior to his layoff, Bart had just been making ends meet, with his paychecks barely covering his monthly mortgage and car payments.  He juggled the rest of his monthly expenses with the help of his credit cards.  Since his layoff, though, Bart has maxed out his credit cards and has missed a mortgage payment.  Now, he is getting collection calls and letters on a consistent basis.

            Further, with his income having been tight even before losing his job, Bart has not paid his property taxes for 2007 or 2008.  And, for various reasons, he has also failed to file state and federal income tax returns or pay those taxes for 2006 and 2007.  On top of all this, the IRS already has a $5,000 tax lien against Bart.  The lien is for tax liabilities that arose in 2000 and for which Bart filed the required returns.  It is properly recorded in the land records against Bart’s house.

            Reluctantly, Bart decides to file for bankruptcy protection on February 2, 2009.

1.         Assume:

                     Bart can and does file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case;

                     The Chapter 7 trustee determines Bart’s case is a “no asset” case; and

                     Bart receives a bankruptcy discharge.

            (A)       Explain what effect the bankruptcy discharge will have on Bart’s 2007 and 2008 property tax liabilities.

            (B)       Explain what effect the bankruptcy discharge will have on Bart’s 2006 and 2007 state and federal income tax liabilities.

            (C)       Explain what effect the bankruptcy discharge will have on the IRS’s recorded tax lien.

 2.         Assume:

                     Just prior to filing for bankruptcy, Bart gets another job; and

                     Bart has non-exempt equity in his home.

            (A)       Explain why Bart will want to file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 13.

            (B)       Assuming Bart can file under Chapter 13, explain what effect filing under that Chapter will have on:

 (i) Bart’s 2006 and 2007 state and federal income tax liabilities; and

             (ii) the IRS’s tax lien.

QUESTION VI - February 2009

            In September 2007, Alice made a handshake agreement with Bill to convey to him a twenty-acre wooded lot in Alice’s hometown of Rutlington, Vermont (which is in Rutlington County). In exchange, Bill agreed to clear the land of timber and leave all the timber cut and split as firewood in a clearing on Alice’s adjoining land by the end of the winter. 

            During February 2008, Bill cleared most of the property, but his back went out before he could finish the job.  The trees he had cut were stacked in the clearing, but had not been split for firewood.  He was not sure when his back would recover enough for him to complete the work. 

            Alice died unexpectedly on May 1, 2008. The will she had prepared in 2003 devises the twenty-acre lot to her friend Cathy.  The will further provides that Alice’s son Dave, her only living relative, is the beneficiary of “all other property that does not pass pursuant to this will.”  Dave and Cathy were the only witnesses to the will. 

 1.         Analyze Bill’s claims.

 2.         Analyze the validity of the bequests to Cathy and Dave.

 3.         Explain how Bill would file his claims.

 4.         Analyze the procedures by which the validity of the will and the interests of Cathy and Dave would be resolved.