Yearly Archive2014


Hughes and Tarnelli Attending RESOLVE 21st Annual Fertility Treatment, Donor Choices and Adoption Conference

his weekend, Kurt Hughes and Michelle Tarnelli are attending the 21st Annual Fertility Treatment, Donor Choices and Adoption Conference, hosted by RESOLVE New England in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

The conference provides a comprehensive approach to the latest information, updates and discussions through its five-featured workshop tracks: treatment; adoption; donor options and surrogacy; emotional health; and complimentary and financial. The key note speaker is Judy Carr, the first woman to give birth after IVF in the United States. For more information on the conference, click here.

Kurt Hughes and Michelle Tarnelli concentrate in assisted reproductive technology (ART) and adoption law, including gestational surrogacy contracts, gamete donor contracts, interstate and step-parent adoptions, and contested termination of parental rights litigation in the probate courts throughout Vermont.

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Attorney General Announces Federal Government to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage in 32 States, Plus Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, the United States Department of Justice issued a press release where Attorney General Eric Holder announces that the federal government will recognize same-sex married couples in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

To read Attorney Holder’s press release in its entirety, please click here.

These states join a similar announcement made last week by Holder, recognizing same-sex married couples in Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Three more states – Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina – may soon be added to the list.

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Vermont’s First Surrogate Matchmakers are now Accepting Applications

Vermont Surrogacy Network is the first matching organization based in Vermont, and tailored to the needs of Vermont residents who want to “stay local” for gestational surrogacy arrangements.

A gestational surrogate, or carrier, is a woman who becomes pregnant and carries a child for families (known as the “intended parents”) who would not otherwise be able to have biological children of their own.

The Burlington area has medical facilities to carry out gestational surrogacy procedures, and many carriers and intended parents in Vermont want to use this exciting process to build their family. VSN offers a naturally supportive environment to keep surrogacy local with in-person interviews, consultations and continued support from the first application to post-delivery care.  Unfortunately, until now Vermonters have had to go to out-of-state organizations for matching purposes.

The Vermont Surrogacy Network intends to fulfill the need for a local matching resource, and we are extremely excited about the launch of this new endeavor. While we encourage intended parents from anywhere in the world to apply, either the gestational carrier or the intended parent(s) will be Vermont residents in every match. This will allow us to provide personalized attention to the specific needs of all of our clients, and allow face-to-face contact without clients driving hours to a major metropolitan area. While the organization is new, its founders have many years of experience in the field, and they look forward to putting their knowledge and passion for building families through gestational surrogacy to work for Vermonters.  One of the founding members, Burlington attorney Kurt Hughes, put it this way: “I have been involved in the legal aspects of gestational surrogacy for more than fifteen years, and I have long seen the need for a Vermont-based organization.  When Jes walked into my office for legal advice about becoming a gestational surrogate herself, I knew that the moment had finally arrived!”

Kurt M. Hughes and Jes Stumpf founded Vermont Surrogacy Network with a mission to provide Vermonters an ethical, affordable, and supportive environment in which intended parents and gestational carriers are matched and guided through the process of surrogacy. Kurt Hughes is the only Vermont attorney who is a member of both the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys.  He has provided legal services for hundreds of adoptions and assisted fertility arrangements, including gestational surrogacy, as well as egg and sperm donation contracts.

Jes Stumpf has dedicated herself to children and families, working in public and private schools, as well as many non-profit family organizations. Upon deciding to become a gestational surrogate herself, she began researching surrogate agencies and was disappointed to find that there was not a local option for gestational surrogacy.  Upon meeting to discuss Jes’ surrogacy options, Kurt and Jes decided it was time to put forth the vision they both shared for what is now, Vermont Surrogacy Network.

Vermont Surrogacy Network is also excited to have the local medical experience of Northeastern Reproductive Medicine, which recently reopened its doors in their new Colchester, VT location. Together we will offer local reproductive alternatives to Vermonters.

To learn more about Vermont Surrogacy Network visit or call (802) 497-6579.

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Hughes Speaks at ABA’s Family Law Fall Conference in Stowe, Vermont

From October 15th through October 18th, legal professionals from throughout the country attended the American Bar Association (ABA) Family Law Section fall conference in Stowe, Vermont. Some of the country’s most distinguished attorneys, medical and other professionals presented on current issues in family law in the United States.

As a leader in Vermont regarding the legal aspects of assisted reproductive technology (ART), Kurt Hughes was invited to speak about ART in the context of existing parentage laws and principles throughout the country in a program titled, “From Contract to Court: Strategies to Help Your Parentage Establishment Withstand Attack in the Courts”.

The ABA Family Law Section has nearly 10,000 attorney and law student members worldwide. For more information, visit the American Bar Association’s Section of Family Law at

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Progress on LGBT Equality: The Attorney General’s Weekly Video Message Focuses on Same-Sex Marriage

Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Weekly Video Message was focused around progress towards marriage equality in the United States.

In light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to deny cert. on federal appeal court rulings striking bans on same-sex marriage, Holder has directed lawyers at the Department of Justice to work with colleagues and agencies to ensure federal benefits are extended to same-sex married couples in the states affected by the Supreme Court’s denial of cert.

Holder states, “We are slowly drawing closer to full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans nationwide.” However, he also expressed his concern over the continued discrimination against same-sex couples in the states that do not support same-sex marriage, and renewed his pledge to support marriage equality if and when the issue returns to the U.S. Supreme Court.

To view Attorney General Holder’s October 17 video message, visit The United States Department of Justice Briefing Room.

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U.S. Supreme Court’s cert. denial paving the way for same-sex marriage

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court denied cert. on federal court appeal decisions that struck down bans on same-sex marriage. This decision (or lack thereof) meant same-sex couples could begin wedding in five more states.

The Supreme Court let decisions stand from federal appeals courts in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits that struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Other states that ban same-sex marriage but are under the jurisdiction of one of these three federal appeals courts – Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming – will likely follow suit and strike down their bans. To date, twenty-four (24) states allow same-sex marriage, and that number will likely increase.

The Supreme Court’s decision to deny cert. allows more same-sex couples to marry, but does not provide the national recognition of marriage equality needed for same-sex couples who live in states that continue to discriminate their marriage rights.

It is likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will grant cert. on a marriage equality case.  It is also likely that, at that time, a majority of states in the U.S. will already recognize marriage equality.

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Hughes Inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers

Kurt M. Hughes of Hinesburg, Vermont has become a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, one of the premier legal associations in America.

The induction ceremony at which Mr. Hughes became a Fellow took place before an audience of approximately 855 persons during the recent 2014 Annual  Meeting of the College in London, England.

Founded in 1950, the College is composed of the best of the trial bar from the United States and Canada. Fellowship in the College is extended by invitation only and only after careful investigation, to those experienced trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility and collegiality. Lawyers must have a minimum of fifteen years trial experience before they can be considered for Fellowship.

Membership in the College cannot exceed one percent of the total lawyer population of any state or province. There are currently approximately 5,798 members in the United States and Canada, including active Fellows, Emeritus Fellows, Judicial Fellows (those who ascended to the bench after their induction) and Honorary Fellows. The College strives to improve and elevate the standards of trial practice, the administration of justice and the ethics of the trial profession. Qualified lawyers are called to Fellowship in the College from all branches of trial practice. They are carefully selected from among those who customarily represent plaintiffs in civil cases and those who customarily represent defendants, those who prosecute individuals accused of crime and those who defend them. The College is thus able to speak with a balanced voice on important issues affecting the legal profession and the administration of justice.

Mr. Hughes now joins his partner, James W. Murdoch, in the College.  Mr. Murdoch has served on the College’s Vermont State Committee since 2009.

Mr. Hughes has been practicing in the Burlington area since 1985 in the areas of Adoption Law, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Law, Surrogacy Contracts, Family Law and Federal and State Criminal Defense. The newly inducted Fellow is an alumna of Colgate University and Vermont Law School.

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Hughes to be Inducted to the American College of Trial Lawyers

The firm is pleased to announce that Kurt Hughes will be inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers at their Annual Meeting in London, England – September 11-14, 2014.

Membership in the College is by invitation only.  It is limited to “those trial lawyers who are outstanding and are considered to be the best in the states and provinces in which they practice.  The highest ethical and moral standards and excellent character are indispensable attributes of a Fellow.”

Hughes now joins his partner Jim Murdoch in the College.  Murdoch has served on the American College of Trial Lawyers’ Vermont State Committee since 2009.

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Murdoch Selected as Best Lawyer

James W. Murdoch has once again been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America for his work in the practice areas of Criminal Defense and Family Law.

In addition, Murdoch was congratulated on being included for at least 15 years, and being recognized in this exclusive selection by his peers as one of the best in his specialty.

Mr. Murdoch, a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, concentrates in the areas of Family LawCriminal Defense and Personal Injury.  An alumnus of Middlebury College and Boston University’s School of Law, he has been practicing law in Burlington, Vermont since 1968.

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