Wyoming news briefs for January 3

Teton attorney disbarment decision pending

CASPER — A decision on disbarment for a Teton County prosecutor who violated seven rules of professional conduct is still pending in the Wyoming Supreme Court, more than seven months later. 

A Wyoming State Bar tribunal recommended Becket Hinckley be disbarred in May, after a week-long hearing on his conduct during a 2015 trial that sentenced Josh Black to life in prison on assault charges. 

The state Supreme Court makes the final call on disbarment. 

A three-person Board of Professional Responsibility panel found in the hearing that Hinckley had knowingly lied in court, failed to secure certain records in the case, disobeyed direct orders from a judge, made inappropriate comments during the trial and failed to follow up on warrants and preservation letters with law enforcement. 

Bar counsel Mark Gifford said at the conclusion of the hearing that the state’s highest court typically rules on disbarment decisions (though they are relatively rare) within three months of a recommendation. The process may be drawn out longer if Hinckley appeals the decision, but that can’t happen until the Supreme Court rules. 

Gifford said that only once in roughly the last 10 years has the court disagreed with a recommendation for disbarment. 

Chief Justice Kate Fox said she can’t comment on the decision since it’s still under the court’s advisement. 

“As with every other case before us, the Supreme Court takes the time necessary to review the record, research the law, and issue a well-reasoned an opinion,” Fox said in an email Tuesday.


Bedford man killed in fatal accident

AFTON — A Bedford resident has been identified as the victim of a fatal accident on Highway 89 that took place in the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 20.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol confirmed that David Reel, 58, was killed when he drifted into the oncoming lane of traffic and collided head-on with another vehicle.

According to WYDOT, Reel was not wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene of the accident.

According to the WYDOT incident report, the road was icy at the time of the cras. However, the responding officer told SVI News that road conditions did not appear to be the cause of the accident.

Driver inattention, driver fatigue or a possible medical condition are all being investigated as possible contributing factors.


Winners of ‘Governor’s Arts Awards’ announced

ROCK SPRINGS — Governor Mark Gordon has announced the recipients of the Wyoming Arts Council’s 2021 Governor’s Arts Awards. 

Recipients will be honored at a dinner and awards ceremony on Feb. 4, 2022 in Cheyenne. 

The recipients are: Bronwyn Minton, artist/curator from Jackson; Debora Soule, arts administrator from Rock Springs; James Bama, artist from Wapiti; Off Square Theatre Company, from Jackson; and a posthumous award to Charles Belden, a photographer from Meetseetse. 

Established in 1982, the Governor’s Arts Awards winners are selected based on their substantial contributions made in Wyoming that exemplify a long-term commitment to the arts, with special consideration given to nominees whose arts service is statewide. 

There are many nominations submitted for the Governor’s Arts Awards each year, and the selection process is quite competitive. Nominations are submitted to the Wyoming Arts Council in October, and reviewed in November by the Wyoming Arts Council Board, which sends recommendations to the Governor, who makes the final decisions on which recipients are honored. 

Nominations are open to any Wyoming citizen, business or community member. Award criteria includes: length of commitment to the arts, outstanding contribution or impact, breadth of support, involvement in special initiatives supporting the arts, artistic excellence/ level of standards.