Jesse Corum, BBS class of '69, honored at retirement party
Corum is originally from the Manchester area and was a member of Burr and Burton Seminary's graduating class of 1969.
Corum has been a deeply committed volunteer in the greater Brattleboro community through activities in the Rotary Club where he was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow in 1996. During his presidency of the club in 1987-1988 he was very pleased to oversee the admission of the first women to the club in its 37 year existence. In the 1990Õs he was one of the founders of what is now called "Pure Water for the World" (PWW) an independent non-profit organization with a national board of directors dedicated to providing potable water to the one billion people who don't have access to such. Starting out as the "water rats" he met weekly for two years with approximately five other Rotarians installing the first water purification system to El Salvador and since then PWW has been successful in delivering drinkable water to parts of Honduras and Haiti reaching some 400,000 people through a process called "slow sand filtration."
He was on the Board of Youth Services (YS) for over 27 years serving as President of the Board for a couple years in the mid-eighties. He reports that, "when I walked down the sidewalk people I knew would practically switch to the other side of street because they just knew I'd be asking them for money or other support for some event YS was about to put on." Corum also served the Town of Brattleboro through his work on helping to rewrite the Town Plan while serving on the Planning Commission from 1980-1985, as a Town Representative of over 20 years, and as a member of the Selectboard from 2008-2010 (Chair 2009-2010).
"I believe I played a part in bringing civility and open, honest, and respectful discussion on the part of the Board and those who appeared before us," he recalls. Corum has been active in the local and state bar organizations as a member and former President of the Windham County Bar Association, the Vermont Bar Association, and particularly the Vermont Association for Justice where he has been a member of the Board of Governors since 1996 and served as its Treasurer, 2000-2002, and President, 2003-2004. The latter organization is devoted to helping people seeking access to justice through the court system, which Corum has devoted his time and effort to in his practice. Corum concentrated his practice in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, ranging from simple traffic tickets to murder cases, workers compensation, and divorce. Corum has commented that one of the most rewarding aspects was being able to represent women and enable them to "get back on their own two feet" during a grueling divorce process.
"I could see their visible growth and to have played a part in that was important to me," he said. He has tried over 100 criminal and civil cases to jury verdict. In 2006, he won a not guilty verdict on a charge of second degree murder in Windham Superior Court. One of the defining moments of his career was when District Judge Paul Hudson hauled him into chambers one day in 1995 and requested him to represent a young 20 year old boy in his retrial for first degree murder. "It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I said 'yes' to the Judge as the defendant had been tried and convicted only to have the case reversed by our Supreme Court. The victim was a very beloved local teacher, a very traumatic and emotional situation. I felt duty bound as a defense attorney to represent him zealously despite the odds and what I suspect may have been resentment in the community for doing so. I believe strongly in the principle that one is not guilty until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed the crime charged, regardless of who the defendant is," he said.
For more than 20 years Corum has served occasionally as an Acting Judge in the Superior Court Criminal Division, as Small Claims Judge, in the Superior Court Family Division (Relief from Abuse Proceedings and as Acting Magistrate) and for the Judicial Bureau (Traffic Ticket matters). Corum's contributions to the legal community and to thousands of clients have made a lasting impact in and around Windham County. He practiced with an understated zealousness, with integrity for the client, respect for the rule of law and a compassion for his clients' varied situations, according to his partners. It is a tradition which has been instilled in the firm, including the staff. Speaking of the staff, the firm has had very little turn over, with several that have been with the firm since Corum started in the early eighties. He attributes this to "a team effort, placing trust in each person that the job can be accomplished and presenting them with opportunities for growth so they too are challenged just as we as attorneys are with every new client. They have been the backbone of the practice and always make me look my best," he said.
Corum has two adult sons, Jesse V and Scott, with a granddaughter due to arrive in June. His wife of 40 years, Lynn Corum, passed away in 2012. Corum and his family have enjoyed the skiing and bike riding (having ridden the length of the State in one day on three different occasions), that Vermont offers, as well as many other outdoor activities and sports. Corum's partners, office staff, fellow attorneys, family and friends recently honored him at a retirement party at his firm.
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