Wyoming news briefs for October 27

Committee named to advise on new judge

CASPER — A screening committee for Wyoming’s next federal district judge has been appointed by state Democratic leadership, the party said on Tuesday. 

The six-member committee, which includes lawyers, party leaders and a state representative, will review applicants for the position through Nov. 5. 

Freudenthal, who joined Wyoming’s federal district court in 2010, announced in July that she will enter into semi-retirement next year, taking a senior status on the bench. That means she can take a lighter caseload and has more say in which cases to take on. 

Freudenthal is the Equality State’s first female federal judge, appointed by former President Barack Obama. 

Her replacement will be chosen by President Joe Biden, who will consider recommendations from Wyoming Democratic Party Chair Joe Barbuto following the screening committee’s review.

 “...I’ve brought together a group of individuals with extensive backgrounds in law, leadership, and Wyoming...,” Barbuto said in a release Monday. “Given their breadth of knowledge and experience, I will lean heavily on their recommendations before making my own. A lifetime appointment to a position of such importance deserves a high degree of scrutiny and that’s exactly what we’re providing.”


Williams sworn in to represent House District 2

LUSK — J.D. Williams of Lusk was sworn in as a member of the 66th Wyoming Legislature on Friday in the House Chamber of the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne.  

Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice Kate M. Fox administered the oath of office and Speaker of the Wyoming House Eric Barlow presided over the ceremony.  

Following the administration of the oath of office from Chief Justice Fox, Speaker Barlow and fellow legislators welcomed Williams to the Wyoming Legislature. 

Williams was appointed at a joint meeting of the Goshen, Niobrara, and Weston County Commissioners to serve the residents of House District 02 on Oct. 19 to fill the vacant seat left by former Rep. Hans Hunt, who resigned on Oct. 1.  

Rep. Williams will serve on the House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Committee until the end of the current term.


Teton County health officials unanimously say now is not the time to end mask mandate

JACKSON — Jackson Hole health officials from the hospital, Board of Health and Health Department said unanimously this week that now is not the time to lift the mask mandate in Teton County.

“My recommendation would be to continue as we are for the time being,” said Teton District Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell, one of several officials to promote the continuation of the mask mandate. “We will continue to continuously evaluate the system, and should that recommendation change at any point, of course we would make both the commission and the town council aware.”

Riddell’s advice followed an hour of public comment Monday dominated by a newly active coalition of citizens called the Mountain Freedom Alliance, which wants the mask mandate lifted as soon as possible.

One small-business owner testifying Monday called masks a prudent tool to protect employees serving tourists. He was the only member of the public to speak Monday in favor of the mandate. 

After the Wyoming Legislature changed state law to require local elected officials — rather than health officers like Riddell — to approve health orders that last longer than 10 days, the Jackson Town Council and Teton County Board of County Commissioners voted in August and September, respectively, to require masks in Teton County through Dec. 31. 

The order has become a lightning rod here, as similar orders have elsewhere in the country. 

Jackson Hole is in the red, or “high,” risk level. The county is documenting 323.9 cases per 100,000 people. The threshold for dropping to orange, or “substantial” risk, is fewer than 100. And the county would have to be in yellow to automatically lift the mandate.