From 1890 to 1972 the citizens of Wyoming voted their judges into office, but now they get only an occasional chance to vote them out.
“Retention votes” give the people a chance to rid themselves of judges they don’t like, even if they have little idea who they are. Teton County will vote this year to retain or show the door to two Supreme Court judges, one district court judge and three circuit court judges.
Only one of those, Circuit Court Judge Jim Radda, regularly works in Jackson. Radda has been on the bench for 10 years and was retained in 2016 with a 76% yes vote. He worked 19 years in the Teton County Attorney’s Office before that. Members of the Wyoming Bar give him an 83.7% approval rating.
Two other 9th District circuit court judges — the district includes Teton, Sublette and Fremont counties — are up.
One, though he works mostly in Sublette County, has some Jackson history. Curt Haws was attorney for the town of Jackson and worked at Mullikin, Larson and Swift. He was retained in 2016 with the approval of 79% of voters. Bar association members endorse him with a 93% approval vote.
Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt, who works mostly in Lander, was retained in 2016 with 79% approval. The bar association likes him with an 89% approval rate.
Retention for all circuit court judges is for four years.
District Court Judge Jason Conder was appointed just last year. He is a former assistant U.S. attorney. His retention is for six years. He's endorsed by 100% of bar association members who responded
Two fairly new Supreme Court justices also face voters. They are Lynne Boomgaarden and Kari Jo Gray, both up for eight-year terms after being appointed in 2018.
Boomgaarden worked mostly in private practice before her appointment, but did serve as director of the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments; she is endorsed by 90% of bar association members. Gray did a year as head of the state Department of Family Services and was a political advisor to Gov. Matt Mead, who appointed her. Seventy-three percent of bar members endorse her retention