Anna Reeves Olson, Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming
Bret Vance v. City of Laramie
November 7, 2016
Bret Vance was discharged from his position as a firefighter after random Breathalyzer tests detected alcohol in his system. He appealed the discharge, and after an evidentiary hearing, the Civil Service Commission reduced his discipline from discharge to a suspension. Subsequently, both the City and Mr. Vance petitioned the District Court for review of the Commission's decision. The District Court reversed, concluding the Commission had applied the wrong legal standard and remanded the matter for further agency proceedings (Decision #1). Upon remand, the Commission considered the same evidentiary record and ruled in favor of Mr. Vance, finding that the Breathalyzer tests were invalid because the Breathalyzer tests did not comply with Department of Transportation standards (Decision #2). The City petitioned the District Court for review, and it again reversed and remanded concluding that the record and the law did not support the Commission's determination that the tests were invalid. Considering the matter for the third time, the Commission consented to Mr. Vance's discharge and Mr. Vance petitioned the District Court for review, but it dismissed his petition (Decision #3).
Mr. Vance appealed to the Supreme Court and it held that pursuant to W.S. § 15-5-113, the District Court only had subject matter jurisdiction to review decisions from the commission that "discharg[e] or reducing any person in rank or pay." The District Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to review decisions in which the Commission refused to discharge an employee. Stated another way, because the Commission did not discharge Vance or reduce his rank or pay, it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the City's petition for judicial review of Decision #2. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that because the District Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to review Commission Decision #2, all of the proceedings that followed Commission Decision #2 were improper, meaning that Commission Decision #3 and the District Court's dismissal of Mr. Vance's petition for review of that decision were void and vacated.
Cheyenne Newspapers, Inc., d/b/a Wyoming Tribune Eagle, v. Bd. of Trustees of Laramie County School District No. 1
November 30, 2016
The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle submitted a public records request to the Laramie County School District and requested the inspection of school board member emails. In response, the school district retrieved the emails, downloaded them to a CD and made the CD available to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, subject to a fee for the staff's time. The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle filed a declaratory judgment action against the school district requesting a ruling that the Wyoming Public Records Act does not allow a government entity to charge for access to electronic records when the request is for inspection of the records and not for a copy of the records. The District Court ruled in favor of the school district, and the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle appealed. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed and held that Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 16-4-202(d)(i) allows a public record custodian to charge for inspection of an electronic record if the inspection request requires production of a copy of the record. The limitation on the costs charged is that they be the reasonable costs of producing a copy.
Spencer D. Willey v. Bertha I Willey, Allen F...