Striving for justice reform is the mission of Robert Sand ’80, a professor at Vermont Law School, who also holds the title of High Bailiff for Windsor County, Vermont.
Sand cautioned, however, that the high usher is only a lofty ceremonial title. “It’s a historical anomaly because my role is to arrest the sheriff if the sheriff needs to be arrested,” he said. During his two years of work, Sand did not arrest anyone.
Vermont is the only state with such a position. “It’s a leftover [from] while the state did not have a state police as the highest law enforcement official,” Sand said. “The Legislature decided that checks were needed on county sheriffs.” When the Vermont State Police was created in 1947, the role of the High Bailiff became even less important.
Sand said he ran for the elected two-year position as a lark in 2020 and is not currently seeking re-election. “I will continue to press the legislature to give the position some teeth. Whether [they do], I could run again,” he said. “The High Bailiff could be turned into something serving a useful justice reform purpose.”
In Hamilton, Sand majored in English, then worked for four years in outdoor education in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut and New York. After law school in Vermont, he clerked for a federal judge before spending two years in private practice and 22 years as a prosecutor, serving as the elected state attorney (DA) for Windsor County.
A professor since 2013, Sand specializes in criminal law and restorative justice. He is the founding director of the law school’s Center for Justice Reform, which offers a master’s degree in restorative justice.
“Every teacher is excited when students realize their own potential as reformers and agents of change,” he said.