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Ernest W. Gibson III (born September 23, 1927) is a retired attorney and judge who served as a Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court.

Early life[]

Ernest Willard Gibson III was born in Brattleboro, Vermont on September 23, 1927.[1] His father was Ernest W. Gibson Jr., who served as Governor of Vermont and a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont.[2] His grandfather, Ernest Willard Gibson, was a member of the United States House of Representatives and a United States Senator.[2]

Start of career[]

Gibson graduated from Washington, DC's Western High School in 1945.[3] He served in the United States Army at the end of World War II (1945 to 1946), and attained the rank of technical sergeant.[4] He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1951,[3] and served in the Army again during the Korean War, this time as a captain of field artillery in the 45th Infantry Division, for which he received the Bronze Star Medal.[4] Gibson received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1956, and was admitted to the bar the same year.[3] Gibson continued his military career as a member of the Vermont Army National Guard, and attained the rank of major in the judge advocate general branch.[5]

Political career[]

A Republican, he served as state's attorney for Windham County from 1957 to 1961.[3] From 1961 to 1963 he served in the Vermont House of Representatives, and was appointed chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 1963.[3] In the House, Gibson joined a group known as the "Young Turks", members who worked for the passage of progressive legislation regardless of party affiliation; the Young Turks were instrumental in ending the Republican Party's 100-year grip on statewide power by electing Philip H. Hoff as governor in 1962.[6]

Gibson was Chairman of the Vermont Public Service Board from 1963 to 1972.[7]

Judicial career[]

In 1972, Gibson was appointed a judge of the Vermont Superior Court, and he served until 1983.[7]

In 1983, Justice Franklin S. Billings Jr. of the Vermont Supreme Court was appointed as Chief Justice.[8] Gibson was nominated to replace Billings as an Associate Justice.[8] He served on the court until retiring in 1997.[9]

In 1986 and 1987, Gibson and two other justices, William Hill and Thomas L. Hayes, were accused of misconduct, alleged to have tailored decisions to suit the wishes of an assistant judge in Chittenden County, and to have helped her cover up padding her pay; the assistant judge, Jane Wheel, was supposed to be wielding undue influence over the justices.[10] Hill retired, and Hayes died before the charges could be resolved.[10] (Wheel was convicted on charges arising from the case; Hill was found to have violated rules regarding judicial conduct.)[11] Gibson was overwhelmingly reappointed to the Supreme Court in March 1987, and in July 1987, Vermont's Judicial Conduct Board dropped the charges against him.[10]

In January 1997, Gibson administered the oath of office to Howard Dean, who had been reelected as governor in 1996.[12] Gibson served until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, and was succeeded by Marilyn Skoglund.[9]

Religious work[]

Gibson was Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont from 1977 to 1998 and President of the Board of Trustees of the Diocese from 1991 to 1998.[13]


In 1960 married Charlotte Elaine Hungerford.[14] They are the parents of three children: Margaret,[15] Mary,[16] and John.[17]







Legal offices
Preceded by
Franklin S. Billings, Jr.
Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Marilyn Skoglund
Political offices
Preceded by
John D. Paterson
Chairman of the Vermont Public Service Board
Succeeded by
William Gilbert

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