COUNTY JUDGES AND OFFICERS
Hon. Joyce E. McKeeman – Corinth
Hon. Laurel Mackin
Email: Joyce McKeman
Email: Laurel Mackin
County Clerk and Treasurer
5 Court Street
Chelsea, VT 05038
Mon. – Fri. 8:00 – 4:30
11 VT Route 113
Chelsea, VT 05038
Hon. Bernard Lewis
Mark MacDonald – Williamstown
Orange Senate District
Jane Kitchel – Danville
Joe Benning – Lyndonville
Caledonia-Orange DistrictSuperior Court of Vermont
Courthouse Hours – 8:30-4:30
The Orange County Assistant Judges are the duly elected county administrators. Their duties include preparing the budget to support the county courthouse and to support the non-law enforcement duties of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The budget supports the maintenance and operational costs of both the Sheriff’s Department building on Rt. 113 in Chelsea, and the courthouse.
Copies of the Orange County budget are available at the courthouse and at all town clerk’s offices.
The Assistant Judges sit with the presiding Superior Court judges on matters in civil and family court. Together with the presiding judge, they determine the facts of each case.
Joyce E. McKeeman was elected Assistant Judge in November, 2010 and began her first term in February 2011. She was re-elected in 2014. Judge McKeeman has been a resident of Corinth since 1990.
McKeeman is a Colorado native with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming and a Master’s degree from the University of Virginia. She taught Economics, American History and American Government at community and four-year colleges including Vermont Technical College and Lyndon State College.
Judge McKeeman has received training and is qualified to hear uncontested divorce hearings as a judge sitting alone. She has also received additional training and been assigned to hear Judicial Bureau proceedings since 2013.
Orange County Courthouse, located on the south common in Chelsea village, is a two-story white clapboard Greek Revival structure. It faces Court Street and overlooks the common. The prominent bell tower is topped by a gilded copper dome.
Court ledgers show numerous expenses in the early 1840’s for repairs to the deteriorating, old courthouse, and in 1846 the county levied a tax to fund a new building, with the provision that the cost not exceed $3,500. The county paid $3.50 for a plan for the new courthouse, and dismantled the old one. Master Builder Horace Carpenter of Chelsea and Lefavor Waters of Randolph constructed the present Greek Revival style in 1847 for $4,228.80. There must have been a delay in the final payment, perhaps while the county raised additional funds, because it included interest.
The Town of Chelsea contributed $1,000 for the inclusion of a municipal office in the courthouse and the use of the building for Town Meetings. This joint town/county use continued until 1891 when Chelsea sold its share in the building and in 1894 erected a town hall of its own, still standing nearby.
By 1879 the courthouse was once again in need of repair and expansion. The county added a vault and expanded the east end of the courthouse. The courtroom was updated with a new bench and bar accented with elaborate cutout oak balusters.
Increasing caseloads once more strained the courthouse to its limits by the 1990s. Some advocated building a new courthouse, but county voters overwhelmingly approved funding for yet another addition to the courthouse in 1997. Designed by the Burley Partnership, the addition included a new secondary courtroom, jury room and elevator to provide access to the upstairs courtroom.
Above written and presented by the Vermont Judicial History Society, 1999, in an illustrated history of the county and courthouse that is mounted outside of the first-floor courtroom in the courthouse. Used by permission.
“The courthouse bell was cast in 1714, probably in England and first hung in the Byfield Parish church in Essex County, Massachusetts. After that church purchased a new Revere bell in 1817, Judge Josiah Dana of Chelsea obtained the old one, perhaps through the intercession of Rev. Frederick Plummer who was from Byfield Parish but was preaching in Chelsea at the time. Church services in town were then held in the Courthouse. The bell was moved to the present courthouse when it was constructed in 1847, where it remains to this day. It weighs 226 pounds and for many years was rung to announce when a returning jury was about to render a verdict.” (White River Valley Herald, July 4, 1963)