Ninth District Court Judge Timothy Day will likely not oversee a former library board member’s case against the Teton County Board of County Commissioners.
Day laid out his intent in an order issued Monday.
“The Court has determined that it will assign this case to a different judge,” Day wrote. “An order of assignment will follow.”
Cheyenne Attorney Bruce Moats is representing Dail Barbour, the former library board member that commissioners removed from her position behind closed doors on Nov. 9. Moats specializes in public access to government and has represented the Jackson Hole News&Guide in cases involving open records.
Moats told the News&Guide Monday that Day spoke about his reasoning during a status hearing Monday when Moats, his co-counsel Len Carlman and, on the other side, Deputy County Attorney Keith Gingery spoke with the judge about the case going forward.
“He just knows people involved,” Moats said of Day.
Gingery told the News&Guide he’d heard similar reasoning from the judge.
In removing Barbour, the County Commission cited a statute that gives commissioners the authority to remove a library board member for two reasons: misconduct or neglect of duty. When making the decision, commissioners heard from members of the library board who alleged that Barbour had created a toxic environment on the board. Barbour has said that’s not true and that proof is on the record.
A GoFundMe campaign to pay Barbour’s legal bills had raised $9,500 toward a $10,000 goal from 88 donors as of Tuesday afternoon.
Moats and Carlman are working with Gingery to come to agreement on the facts of the case, ideally leaving only the legality of Barbour’s removal to be debated in court.
Gingery is also looking to see if the County Commission is willing to hold off on filling Barbour’s former seat on the board until the legal case is resolved.
If that happens, the two hearings Barbour’s attorneys requested — one on a preliminary injunction to keep the County Commission from filling the seat, and one to debate the legality of her removal from the library board — could be consolidated into one.
The date remains to be seen, but the court is leaning towards February or March.
When the hearing does happen, Day said in his Monday order that two people will likely testify: Barbour and Natalia D. Macker, chairwoman of the County Commission.
More court filings are expected as both sides come to agreement on the facts of the case as well as whether to consolidate the hearings, and the timeframe in which to conduct the hearing.
Moats and Gingery said both sides are working together to resolve the case quickly, but Moats said neither side plans to go soft in the courtroom.
“Both sides are not pulling any punches,” Moats said, adding that cooperating on the facts and timeline is just a way to be “efficient.”