Jury returns unanimous verdict against Sheriff Haskell in civil case brought by State of Wyoming
Sheriff to be removed from office
by Pinedale Online!
June 9, 2016
The jury in the State of Wyoming vs. Sublette County Sheriff Stephen Haskell civil case returned a unanimous "Yes" verdict after about four hours of deliberation Thursday evening (June 9th). The verdict of "Yes" was to the charge did Sheriff Haskell commit misconduct or malfeasance while in office as Sheriff? The question did not involve any actions prior to being sworn into office.
On Thursday morning, Sheriff Haskell’s defense team rested its case in the civil removal trial without presenting a single witness. The prosecution presented two days of testimony of numerous witnesses
Ninth District Judge Marv Tyler told the jurors they had to return a unanimous verdict to the question of whether or not Sheriff Haskell, as an elected official, should be removed from office for "misconduct or malfeasance." The case was filed by the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office after the Sublette County Commissioners sent a "verified complaint" to the Governor alleging Sheriff Haskell was unfit to hold office.
After the verdict, the Sublette County Commissioners issued a media release announcing a Special Meeting to be held on Friday, June 10th at 1PM in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Sublette County Courthouse in Pinedale to introduce Acting Sheriff Mark Farrell, and to declare a vacancy in the office of Sublette County Sheriff.
The Sheriff still faces a pending trial on five criminal charges alleging he illegally and intentionally ordered and purchased items for the Sheriff’s Office after he was elected in November 2014 and before he was sworn in on January 5, 2015. Three of the charges are felonies. A trial date has not been set for the criminal case. He has pled not guilty to those charges.
The result of the civil case verdict means that the Sublette County Republican Party will need to meet to choose three candidates to replace Stephen Haskell as sheriff. Their names will be turned in to the County Commissioners, who will then pick one of the names to fill the remainder of Sheriff Haskell’s term.
See the Friday, June 10 edition of the Pinedale Roundup for more details on the civil trial. See the Tuesday, June 14 edition of the Sublette Examiner for more on the full story and the verdict.
Additional information courtesy Joy Ufford, Pinedale Roundup
June 9, 2016 at 9:23pm
Jury's verdict – to remove Haskell from office
By Joy Ufford – firstname.lastname@example.org PINEDALE –
Just before 8 p.m. Thursday, a 13-person jury in Pinedale’s Ninth District Court returned with a verdict after four hours of deliberation in Sublette County Sheriff Stephen Haskell’s civil removal trial.
The question – did they unanimously find the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office attorneys prove Sheriff Haskell committed misconduct while in office and should he be removed? The answer – yes – verified by each one as Ninth District Clerk of Court Janet Montgomery polled them after reading the verdict.
Haskell and his attorneys Patricia and Michael Bennett stood stunned by the verdict, and his wife fought back tears.
Wyoming Attorney General’s Office attorneys David Delicath and Josh Eames stood silently as well. Sublette County Clerk Mary Lankford and Treasurer Roxanna Jensen also sat in the back of the courtroom for the verdict’s reading.
The civil-removal process began in March when county commissioners sent a "verified complaint" about Haskell to Gov. Matt Mead, who forwarded it to the AG’s office to be filed on behalf of the state.
Haskell’s defense rested earlier that day without calling a witness.
Judge Marv Tyler excused the jurors at that time and asked them to return at 2 p.m. for jury instructions and closing arguments before their deliberation began.
Bennett argued in his closing statement that Haskell might have shown poor judgment but did not intentionally try to defraud the county, which protested his ordering uniforms and other items for the sheriff’s office before and after he took office Jan. 5, 2015.
The judge said due to his excusing a juror earlier in the week, an alternate was pressed into service. The attorneys had agreed the remaining alternate would serve as a 13th juror.
After the verdict, Judge Tyler asked Delicath and Eames to prepare a judgment. It is unclear who will serve as sheriff with Undersheriff Col. Mark Farrell out of town, leaving Capt. Wes Johnston temporarily in charge, according to a source at the courthouse.