Wyoming Judicial Branch


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Honorable E. James Burke elected to serve on the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) Board

Published: 3/23/2017 12:00:00 AM

Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice E. James Burke was elected to the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) Board by a vote of the general membership at the midyear meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 1, 2017. The Conference of Chief Justices was founded in 1949 to provide an opportunity for the highest judicial officers of the states to meet and discuss matters of importance in improving the administration of justice, rules and methods of procedure, and the organization and operation of state courts and judicial systems, and to make recommendations and bring about improvements on such matters.

Membership in the Conference of Chief Justices consists of the highest judicial officer of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands. The Conference of Chief Justices is governed by a Board of Directors.

Chief Justice Burke also serves on the CCJ/COSCA's Access, Fairness and Public Trust Committee, Meeting Planning Committee, Education Committee, and is Co-Vice Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee.

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U.W. College of Law Advisory Board Selects the Honorable William U. Hill as a recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award

Published: 3/15/2017 8:30:00 AM

Wyoming Supreme Court Justice William U. Hill will be recognized as a recipient of the 2017 University of Wyoming College of Law Distinguished Alumni Award at the Honors Banquet on April 7, 2017. The achievements of Justice Hill and other honorees will be acknowledged at this annual event. Access full article here.

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"You Be The Judge" Returns to Sweetwater County

Published: 3/15/2017 8:00:00 AM

Western Wyoming Community College is pleased to partner with the Wyoming Supreme Court, the District and Circuit Court Judges of the Third Judicial District, and the Sweetwater County Bar Association to present two free events to the citizens of Sweetwater County.

Access details here.

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March 2017 Attorney Recommendations

Published: 3/10/2017 12:00:00 AM

The Wyoming Supreme Court is pleased to announce the names of newly recommended attorneys from the Board of Law Examiners and the Character and Fitness Committee for the month of March, 2017:

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Judge Wade E. Waldrip, Second Judicial District Court Judge, to retire July 7, 2017 -- Vacancy Announced

Published: 3/6/2017 4:00:00 PM

The Judicial Nominating Commission will accept expressions of interest from qualified persons to fill the vacancy through March 29, 2017. Copies of the expression of interest form can be obtained from the Supreme Court’s website, http://www.courts.state.wy.us/Administration/Careers. The completed form must be received in the office of the Chief Justice no later than 5:00 p.m., on March 29, 2017.

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Advancing Court Technology Initiatives – Creating Greater Efficiency and Effectiveness in the Judiciary and Enhancing Public Trust

Published: 2/24/2017 12:00:00 AM

The Office of Court Administration is currently working on a number of large information technology projects that will improve efficiency and effectiveness in our court system, increase access to court records, and increase public trust in our judiciary. These projects include the implementation of a new case management system in both the district and circuit courts, electronic filing in the district courts, judges’ tools in the district courts, which will allow a judge to more efficiently find case information and organize it in a manner that best suits each individual judge, public access, and a new jury management system. Nearly ten committees have been formed to tackle these large-scale projects. Justice Davis at the Supreme Court is overseeing the projects, as well as the various committees, which encompass six judges from both circuit and district courts, nearly fifteen clerks from both levels of the court system, judicial assistants, a court reporter and a number of attorneys. We hope to include input from all stakeholders to ensure that the systems produced work as effectively and efficiently for the State of Wyoming as possible. A number of the committees are already actively participating in configuring the various systems to ensure their workability across the state.

Court administration is currently on schedule to begin piloting the new case management system in the summer of 2018, followed by a roll out across the state beginning in January 2019. Once the roll out is complete both circuit and district courts will be using the same system, which will promote uniformity. The vendor, Justice Systems, Inc. (JSI), has provided the case management system in the circuit courts for a number of years, and will be providing its newest system, FullCourt Enterprise, to our courts. The circuit courts and court administration has worked with JSI for many years, and believes they will be a worthy and productive partner in this newest endeavor. The district court and circuit court case management system committees have had a number of meetings and a long two-day work session, with each committee, to begin working through the system and determining how it should be configured to best suit the business practices of the clerks.

Court administration will also provide aiSmartBench, a product of Mentis Technology, to the district court judges, which will allow each judge to pull different information from a number of resources to assist in working through their cases. Judges will also be able to share information seamlessly with their chambers and with court clerks if they so choose. The committee assigned to configure aiSmartBench will begin work shortly, and the application is scheduled to be rolled out along with the new case management system to begin in the summer of 2018.

Court administration is currently working with a company called Tybera Inc. to provide an electronic filing system for the district courts. Because electronic filing sits on top of, and relies heavily on the case management system, the roll-out of electronic filing in the district courts will come on the heels of the roll out of the new case management system. Once the configuration of this system ramps up we anticipate in-depth participation from attorneys around the state.

Providing easily accessible information from the courts is critical to ensuring public trust in the judiciary. With the help of the public access committee, court administration will build a new system to provide access to the public which can be used from any place with an internet connection and a browser. This committee will begin working on the public access components in the next few weeks, and the new system will be built and ready for roll out along with the new case management system and judges’ tools.

Another project which will instill confidence in the judiciary from the point of view of the public is the new jury management system. The new system will provide a convenient method for citizens to access the court and provide the requisite information to the court when called for jury duty. Citizens will be able to answer questionnaires online, and will be given options regarding the method of communication with the courts – email, text, or phone call. The jury lists will also be more accurate through partnerships with vital statistics and National Change of Address.

The timelines for these projects are ambitious, but with the efforts of the hard-working administrative staff and the essential contributions from stakeholders, we are confident that these timelines can be realized. With the completion of these projects the judiciary and the public can be confident that justice will be served in a more efficient and effective manner.

The information contained herein will be updated no later than May 1, 2017.

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Wyoming Supreme Court Welcomes New Clerk of the Supreme Court

Published: 2/24/2017 12:00:00 AM

Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice E. James Burke is pleased to announce that Patricia Bennett, MPA, JD, has accepted the position as Clerk of the Supreme Court. Ms. Bennett’s first day at the Court will be February 27, 2017.

Patty Bennett is an attorney dedicated to promoting access to the Wyoming legal system. In her private practice, Ms. Bennett focused primarily on criminal defense and family law. Ms. Bennett also worked a multitude of cases as a contract public defender as well as representing civil indigent clients. Most recently, Ms. Bennett and her husband, Michael, operated a law firm in Rawlins, Wyoming. Patty received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University. Later she earned a MPA and a JD from the University of Wyoming. In 2014, Ms. Bennett retired from the Wyoming Army National Guard where she served in several assignments before completing her military career as a Judge Advocate.

“It is a tremendous honor to continue serving Wyoming in my new role as the Clerk of the Supreme Court. I hope my diverse career and life experiences will be an asset to the Supreme Court and the people of Wyoming,” Ms. Bennett said.

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Carol Thompson Retirement

Published: 2/22/2017 12:00:00 AM

All Rise . . . to congratulate Supreme Court Clerk Carol Thompson on her upcoming retirement and to welcome Patty Bennett as the new Clerk of Court.

Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice E. James Burke recently announced the retirement of the Clerk of Court Carol Thompson, effective February 28, 2017. Carol has served as Clerk since her appointment to the position in February, 2012. Carol joined the Court in August 1994, when she was appointed Deputy Clerk, serving in that position for 12 years until she became Chief Deputy Clerk in 2006. During her tenure as Clerk, Ms. Thompson expanded public accessibility to more complete dockets by implementing the scanning of documents that were paper filings. No longer do gaps appear on the Court’s docket when one or more parties to a case is not an electronic filer. In an effort to bring e-filing to the Court’s entire docket, she advocated for electronic filing in attorney and judicial disciplinary cases. Ms. Thompson has dedicated her career to serving the public and to that end when she learned of a sister state’s practitioner’s guide for oral argument, she revised it for Wyoming attorneys and their staffs; it is now posted on the Judicial Branch website. Carol served on the Permanent Rules Advisory Committee - Appellate Division; the Wyoming State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB); and the Convention Assistance Committee. She is also a member of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks. Carol commented, “It has truly been a pleasure to serve the citizens of the State of Wyoming as first a Deputy then Clerk of the Supreme Court. I would be remiss if I did not give Clerk of Court Judy Pacheco (retired) special thanks for her guidance throughout much of my career. I am proud to be part of one of the first state appellate courts to have electronic filing with an accessible public docket. I wish Ms. Bennett success in her appointment and hope that the legacy of public service this office has established continues under her leadership.”

“Carol has served with great dedication and distinction for nearly 23 years,” said Chief Justice Burke. “Her contributions to this Court, the judicial branch and the citizens of this State have been significant. She will be missed. We wish Carol and her family the best in retirement.”

Chief Justice Burke also announced that Patty Bennett has been chosen to replace Carol Thompson as Wyoming Supreme Court Clerk. Ms. Bennett is a graduate of the University of Wyoming College of Law. She was most recently a partner in the Bennett Law Group, P.C., of Rawlins, Wyoming, and has practiced in both Federal and State courts.

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Elder and Vulnerable Adult Task Force Report Submitted to Governor January 20, 2017

Published: 2/17/2017 12:00:00 AM

Click the title above to access the report

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Paul Phillips Sworn in as Circuit Court Judge, Sixth Judicial District

Published: 2/1/2017 12:00:00 AM

Paul Phillips Sworn in as Circuit Court Judge, Sixth Judicial District

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State of the Judiciary 2017.

Published: 1/26/2017 12:00:00 AM

Delivered by Chief Justice Burke before a Joint Session of the Wyoming Legislature at the Jonah Business Center.

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Judge Kricken’s Robing Ceremony Held January 12, 2017

Published: 1/24/2017 12:00:00 AM

In the Albany County District Courtroom, before a standing-room-only crowd of family, friends, and colleagues, Tori R.A. Kricken was sworn in as District Judge for the Second Judicial District, Albany County, Wyoming. Judge Kricken was appointed by Governor Mead to fill the vacancy created by Judge Jeffrey Donnell’s retirement. Chief Justice E. James Burke presided over the ceremony, and remarks were made by several special guests: Governor Matt Mead, Professor John Burman, retired District Judge Jeffrey Donnell, and Dawnessa Snyder, Vice President of the Wyoming State Bar.

Judge Kricken received her law degree, as well as bachelor’s degree in business administration, from the University of Wyoming. She most recently worked as a staff attorney for the Second Judicial District. She previously worked in private practice in Laramie and as a hearing examiner for the Office of Administrative Hearings in Cheyenne. Judge Kricken has served as District Court Commissioner, Circuit Court Magistrate, and DUI/Drug Court Judge—all for the Second Judicial District—and as a Municipal Court Magistrate in Laramie since 2014. For the past 12 years, she has also taught as a visiting or adjunct professor at the UW College of Law.

Judge Kricken commented that she is “dedicated to upholding the honor and integrity of the Court and to serving the citizens of Albany County and the State of Wyoming.”

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Judge Castano Presents “Judicially Speaking” Program At UW Lab School

Published: 1/20/2017 12:00:00 AM

In late November, Judge Matt Castano, Circuit Court Judge for Crook and Weston Counties, presented an outreach program titled “Judicially Speaking” to 20 seventh and eighth grade students at the UW Lab School in Laramie. Judge Castano commented that it “was a total kick in the pants! It was really fun.”

Access full article here

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Judge Harrington Facilitates Outreach & Education In Big Horn County

Published: 1/6/2017 12:00:00 AM

On December 14, 2016, Judge Harrington, Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Judicial District, facilitated a training with the Big Horn County victims advocacy program (CARES) in Basin, Wyoming. Those in attendance were from Wyoming CARES, the Lovell, Basin, Greybull and Cowley Police Departments, the Big Horn County Attorney’s Office, and the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Department. The second edition of the Wyoming Coalition’s Wyoming Domestic Violence Benchbook, A practical and comprehensive source of information and law, was used as a resource for the training. Law enforcement personnel will receive POST credit for attending. Judge Harrington commented, “The time was well spent and all participants gained an understanding of the other agencies’ needs and perspectives.” A mock trial is being planned for February as training for law enforcement personnel and county attorneys.

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New Judicial Learning Center to open on January 9, 2017

Published: 1/3/2017 12:00:00 AM

The grand opening of the new Judicial Learning Center, located at the Wyoming Supreme Court, will be held on January 9, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.   After the ribbon cutting, it will be free and open to the public during regular business hours.

Access news article here.

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Governor Appoints New District Court Judge for Second Judicial District

Published: 10/28/2016 12:00:00 AM

Governor Matt Mead has selected Tori R. A. Kricken as the District Court Judge for the Second Judicial District in Albany County. Kricken fills the vacancy created by Judge Jeffrey Donnell's retirement effective January 2, 2017. Access Press Release here.

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Governor Appoints New Circuit Court Judge for Campbell County

Published: 10/20/2016 12:00:00 AM

Governor Matt Mead has selected Paul Phillips as Circuit Court Judge for the Sixth Judicial District in Campbell County. Phillips fills the vacancy created by Judge Terrill Tharp's retirement effective January 1, 2017. Access Press Release here.

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Congratulations to Retiring Judges Donnell and Tharp

Published: 9/22/2016 12:00:00 AM

Judicial positions are a unique challenge—it takes a mix of special qualities to perform the job effectively. The Wyoming judiciary has been very fortunate to have benefitted from the integrity, temperament and knowledge of District Judge Jeffrey Donnell and Circuit Court Judge Terrill Tharp over the past 19 years and 22 years, respectively. In August, these two members of the judiciary announced their plans to retire as of January, 2017. Access full article here.

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Judge Donnell Receives State Bar President's Award

Published: 9/21/2016 12:00:00 AM

The Wyoming State Bar recently announced that the Honorable Jeffrey A. Donnell, District Judge for the Second Judicial District, Laramie, is this year's recipient of the State Bar President's Award. Congratulations, Judge Donnell, for receiving this well-deserved award. Access the full article here.

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Judge Roberts Receives Judicial Excellence Award

Published: 9/21/2016 12:00:00 AM

The Wyoming State Bar and the Wyoming Supreme Court are pleased to announce that the Honorable Wesley A. Roberts, Circuit Court Judge for the Ninth Judicial District - Riverton, is this year's recipient of the Larry L. Lehman Award for Judicial Excellence. Access the full article here.

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Equal Justice Wyoming’s 2016 Annual Report

Published: 8/12/2016 12:00:00 AM

Equal Justice Wyoming submitted its annual report to the Wyoming Supreme Court covering the 2016 fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. To access the report, click here.

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State of the Judiciary 2016.

Published: 2/28/2016 12:00:00 AM

Delivered by Chief Justice Burke before a Joint Session of the Wyoming Legislature at the Jonah Business Center.

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