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Mixed responses to Neely decision

Posted: Friday, Mar 17th, 2017

PINEDALE – In the wake of the Wyoming Supreme Court’s split decision on March 7 regarding Pinedale Judge Ruth Neely’s appeal of a state board’s finding of judicial conduct violations, parties on both “sides” found some good news.

The Wyoming Commission of Judicial Conduct Ethics (Commission) had released its ruling that Neely’s 2014 statement to a Pinedale reporter – that she would be unable to marry same-sex couples as a circuit-court magistrate due to her religious faith – violated rules of impartiality and bias.

After the board recommended Neely’s removal as municipal judge and part-time circuit-court magistrate, Neely appealed to the Wyoming Supreme Court with the Alliance Defending Freedom taking her case.

Oral arguments were heard on Aug. 17, 2016, and the three-justice majority opinion and the two-justice dissenting opinion were released March 7. The majority held that Neely had violated rules of judicial conduct by stating she would refuse to follow the law by marrying same-sex couples. However, they felt Neely should keep her judgeship and her magistrate position – if she agrees to marry same-sex couples per law.

When asked for a response to the ruling, Commission executive director Wendy DeSoto said, “The decision speaks for itself.”

Wyoming Equality, on behalf of the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) residents, made this statement: “Wyoming Equality applauds this ruling on judicial impartiality as an affirmation that LGBT couples in Wyoming choose to live in The Equality State, with a strong ethic of live and let live and public officials performing their duties for the entire public.

Jim Campbell, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lead counsel for the Neely appeal, found good news with the decision that Neely should not be removed from her position as municipal judge.

“By affirming that Judge Neely may remain in her judicial positions, the Wyoming Supreme Court has recognized that her honorable beliefs about marriage do not disqualify her from serving her community as a judge, which she has done with distinction for more than two decades,” Campbell said. “The court rejected the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics’ recommendation that Judge Neely be

For the complete article see the 03-17-2017 issue.

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