Governor, Mark Gordon
Chief Justice, Michael K. Davis
President of the Senate, Dan Dockstader
Speaker of the House, Eric Barlow
As former legislators of the State of Wyoming, we still take a keen interest in what is happening in the politics of Wyoming. We jointly raise our voices in concern regarding what is transpiring in our state. We believe we are approaching a constitutional crisis. Our concerns are that two of Wyoming branches of government (judicial and legislative) are unresponsive to the citizens.
The Judicial branch is closed to the people. Most hearings are being held on private video with no notice to the public. The computer system used by the judicial branch for public access, wyuser, is not an open system. Additionally, the Wyoming Supreme Court has closed the judicial system to Jury Trials. The people of Wyoming are being denied access to the courts. The accused are being denied the critical right to a speedy trial by jury. Civil cases are being delayed, possibly for years.
The Wyoming Constitution says:
Article 1, Section 9 Trial by jury inviolate.
The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate in criminal cases. A jury in civil cases and in criminal cases where the charge is a misdemeanor may consist of less than twelve (12) persons but not less than six (6), as may be prescribed by law. A grand jury may consist of twelve (12) persons, any nine (9) of whom concurring may find an indictment. The legislature may change, regulate or abolish the grand jury system. Note Inviolate Defined: Not violated or profaned.
Article 1, Section 8 Courts open to all; suits against state.
All courts shall be open and every person for an injury done to person, reputation or property shall have justice administered without sale, denial or delay. Suits may be brought against the state in such manner and in such courts as the legislature may by law direct.
Secondly, the leadership of our legislature wants to run a session virtually which, in all reality, greatly blocks public access of the people to the legislative branch of government. To many citizens, Zoom™ legislative committees are not accessible. Citizens are required to sign up in advance of the meeting and write their position to get access to speak in a committee meeting. A citizen who sees something wrong on a taped delay Committee meeting can not join and make public comment, as he
did not sign up in advance. This is not equal access. This is not the participatory government envisioned by our founders. Also, if someone were to bring suit regarding the constitutionality of a quorum where legislators are virtually present, the litigant could not have a jury of Wyoming people.
The Legislature is intended to be the People’s house. In a virtual session, where will the virtual people be? How can a citizen access their legislators in a virtual session? How is a citizen to attend an unplanned meeting? How will virtual legislators crowd around a virtual rules committee to hear virtual discussion on rules? The People should not be treated as virtual participants. A virtual
government is an actual mockery of "a government by the people."
The Founders made constitutional provisions to prevent what is happening here in our legislature.
Article 3, Section 7 Time and place of sessions.
(a) The legislature shall meet at the seat of government at twelve o'clock noon, on the second Tuesday of January of the odd-numbered years for general and budget session and may meet on the second Tuesday of January of the even-numbered years for budget session, and at other times when convened by the governor or upon call of the legislature as herein provided…
Article 3, Section 11 Quorum.
A majority of each house shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may prescribe.
Article 3, Section 14 Sessions to be open.
The sessions of each house and of the committee of the whole shall be open unless the business is such as requires secrecy.
The above provisions of the constitution are enacted to allow the people to participate in a legitimate process. We call upon the Courts and the Legislature to adhere to constitutional requirements. The Wyoming State Government closed to the people is behaving contrary to our constitution.
Article 1, Section 1 Power inherent in the people.
All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness; for the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.
We pray that you, the leaders of the executive, judicial and both houses of our legislature put the citizens back into the participatory government described and prescribed by our beautiful Wyoming constitution.
Garry Piiparinen, Evanston
Allen Jaggi, Lyman