District Judge Robert E. Skar has not only been a person who has shared history with the Wyoming Judiciary, he has also made history and reenacted it over his career as a jurist. In 2014, he was the judge who signed the final decree that brought closure to a 37-year old lawsuit—the longest-running water rights case in the history of Wyoming. Going back a bit further in time, in 1993, Judge Skar [then the Hot Springs County and Prosecuting Attorney] played the part of prosecutor Walter R. Stoll in the retrial of Tom Horn, the range detective who was executed by hanging in 1903 upon entry of a murder conviction by a Wyoming jury.
Judge Skar won’t take his place in the history books quite like the infamous Horn, but he has served the State of Wyoming with notable distinction from 1999 to his upcoming retirement on October 2, 2018. He fulfilled the duties of Big Horn County Judge for one year and Circuit Court Judge for the Fifth Judicial District for eight years, until his appointment by Governor Dave Freudenthal to the district court bench in 2008. Judge Skar serves as the district judge in Washakie and Hot Springs counties and also sits in Big Horn County on juvenile and criminal cases. Holly Neufer, Ranee Gonsalez, and Kristen Schlattmann, his current and former staff members, offered that “Judge Skar is very passionate about his work with juveniles and very involved in the family treatment courts. His forte is being able to connect with the people who come before him. He keeps things very real and often relates situations back to his own personal life. Judge Skar never gives the impression that he’s ‘judging’ them; he’s just relatable, humble, compassionate and empathetic. He is very good at balancing the rule of law with what’s going on in each person’s life.”
Judge Skar’s retirement will create the first of two shifts to the history of the judiciary in the Fifth Judicial District. Circuit Court Judge Tom Harrington plans to follow suit in January 2019. With the first chapter behind him, chapter two for Judge Skar will hopefully provide time for him to pursue his interests in glasswork, woodworking and gardening.
“Judge Skar has served the people of the State of Wyoming tirelessly, faithfully, compassionately, and justly at all levels of our court system,” said Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Davis. “He will be sorely missed by his fellow judges, the bar, and above all, the people of the Fifth Judicial District.”
Governor Matt Mead appointed Bobbi Dean Overfield to fill the vacancy created by Judge Skar’s retirement. Ms. Overfield is currently in private practice in Thermopolis.