A high school teacher-turned-lawyer has been picked to become the new U.S. Magistrate Judge for Vermont.

Kevin J. Doyle, 46, of South Burlington, is currently the chief assistant U.S. Attorney for Vermont.

He is expected to replace retiring Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy, who has announced plans to step down in February after serving 12 years on the bench. Conroy also worked as a federal prosecutor in Vermont for 21 years before being named to replace Magistrate Jerome Niedermeier, of South Burlington.

Now Doyle, who served a year (2003-04) as a law clerk for Niedermeier, will become the third person in Vermont to hold the federal post since it became full-time in 1984.

Chief Federal Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford said the court is very fortunate to have Doyle joining the bench. “He will bring great warmth, intelligence and extensive experience to his new position,” Crawford said.

“It’s an honor to be selected,” said Doyle, who has an 8-year term and can seek reappointment.

Doyle said he has had the pleasure of appearing in court before the judges that selected him and now he will join them on the bench.

There were about 30 applicants screened by a 9-member committee, Crawford said.

Final interviews were done by Crawford, Conroy, District Court Judge Christina Reiss, Senior Judge William K. Sessions III and Bankruptcy Judge Colleen Brown.

Crawford said Doyle is subject to a required background check and is expected to have a transition period with Conroy.

Doyle has worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont since 2007. He spent four years in the civil division before moving to the criminal division. Since 2018 he has been the right-hand person for Christina Nolan, the U.S. Attorney for Vermont, running daily operations in the office.

He is a 1996 graduate of Georgetown University and taught at St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, N.J. from 1997 to 2000. He then decided to attend Seton Hall Law School for three years. Doyle also did a one-year stint as a law clerk for Judge Peter Hall of Rutland, who serves on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City.

Doyle still keeps his hand in teaching by serving as an adjunct professor at both Norwich University and Vermont Law School.

The federal court system in Vermont earlier had used up to four private lawyers in a year to serve as part-time magistrates to handle various hearings as needed. The caseload grew until there was a need for one fulltime magistrate to serve the entire state.

The post plays an important role in the federal court system. Just about every defendant arrested on a criminal complaint or indictment gets their first court hearing before the magistrate judge. After hearing arguments, the federal Magistrate Judge decides whether to release or jail defendants on the grounds of being a danger to the community or a risk to flee.

The magistrate judge presides over various cases, can be asked by higher-level federal judges to deal with criminal and civil motions and also can preside at some trials. Most search warrant requests go through his chambers. He also presides over the Re-entry Court.

Spectrum Executive Director Mark Redmond chaired the review committee, with retired Chief U.S. Probation Officer Joseph McNamara, retired Burlington Principal Amy Mellencamp, YMCA Director Kyle Dodson, retired Vermont Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Skoglund, and four lawyers: Mark Kaplan, Natasha Sen, Assistant Federal Public Defender Elizabeth Quinn and Nolan.

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