Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Calendar Query

Are any of the denizens here finding any neat agriculture, nature, equine or history related calendars in the offering for 2013?

As per usual, I have the Wyoming Historical Society Calendar up on the wall.  On my office wall I typically run four calendars at once, so that I'm three to four months out in scheduling at a glance.  I may try to mix the calendars up a bit, and I'm curious what's out there.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

An update on the proposed Wyoming Constitutional Amendments

Prior to the election, I summarized all three proposed amendments to the Wyoming Constitution.  Now that the election has come and gone, it can be noted that two passed and one failed.

That two passed isn't a surprise. Amendment B, which concerned the right to hunt, fish and trap was a Wyoming natural, although I've heard some observe that it wasn't necessary.  The voters probably felt it wasn't necessary, but wanted to act before it was.

Amendment A was the amendment that was supposed to make health care decisions constitutionally protected.  I have doubts about this one, frankly, as I feel that the legislature's escape clause actually might operate at some point in the future to have the opposite effect of the one intended.  I'm sure that most people think that very unlikely, and perhaps it is, but Constitutional interpretation is just that, interpretation, as critics of the law, lawyers and courts so often note.  The amendment proved popular with the voters, however, and there was never really any doubt that it would pass.

The real surprise to me, however, was that Amendment C failed.  The purpose of this amendment was to make clearly legal what is actually already occurring in some of Wyoming's judicial districts.  That is, allowing court commissioners to fill in more broadly for judges.  I really can't figure out why it failed.  It did have a majority of votes cast in favor of it, but it failed to pass in that it wasn't a majority of votes cast in the election. That means a number of people didn't vote on the issue at all.  And it did draw a fair number of no votes to be sure.

As to those who declined to vote on it, well, that's probably because this topic seems obscure, and it is.  I don't blame people for not voting on an issue they don't understand, particularly one like this.  But I don't understand the large number of no votes.  I wish I did.

I guess the large circulation statewide newspaper in Wyoming came out against the Amendment.  I missed that, but a knowledgeable person informed me of that.  The paper's apparent position was that if more judges are needed, more should be provided for.

Well, there's some logic to that, but providing for more judges is a legislative act that takes quite a bit of time, and perhaps doesn't quite understand the many roles that the judges fill.  In the popular imagination, judges don robes and hear trials all day.  Not really.  They do that, of course, but they also do a lot of oddball odds and ends, such as marry people, that can just as well be filled by a court commissioner, if they judges are overtaxed.  Do we need to add judges, for example, if small matters that can be handled by a commissioner are taking up a fair amount of their time?  I wouldn't think so, but apparently most do feel that way, perhaps.

A distressing element of this is that some districts have been broadly using commissioners and others, sticking to the absolute letter of the law, have not.  One lawyer told me that one of the districts, some time ago, used commissioners in a fair number of divorces in that district.  Not because the judges were "out of their office", but because they had so many, and one of t he commissioners was skilled at them.  Would that district be better served if that didn't occur?  It's hard to see how.  And what does that mean for those cases in which that has occurred to date?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012