Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Kate Fox, the newest appointee to the state high court, has asked to be excluded from a case involving state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill.

The Cheyenne-based attorney joined the Supreme Court in January. She filed a brief recusal memo in the Supreme Court on Thursday. Fox asked to be excused one day after the state filed for a rehearing in the case, in which the court ruled unconstitutional a controversial law stripping Hill of much of her power last year.

"I must recuse myself from participation in this case," Fox wrote in the memo filed Thursday.

Fox provided no explanation in the memo. Neither Fox nor Chief Justice Marilyn Kite was available for comment Monday; Supreme Court offices were closed for President's Day. 

But records show Fox represented Rep. Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn, last year when Hill threatened to sue Berger over a legislative report the superintendent considered libelous. Such a conflict of interest could justify a justice's request to be excused from a case.

Court rules say if a justice is recused, the justice who participated in the original decision should sit in his or her place, if available.

The justices who originally heard the Hill case were Kite, Justice James Burke, Justice Michael Davis and retired Justices Barton Voigt and Michael Golden. 

Justice William Hill recused himself from the Hill case when it was filed last year. He is married to Mary Kay Hill, a deputy policy director for Gov. Matt Mead, who is named in the lawsuit. Golden was appointed to fill Justice Hill's seat for the case.

It is unclear whether Golden will remain on the court to consider the state's rehearing petition or whether Kite will appoint someone else. Court rules give Kite the authority to appoint members of the judiciary to serve in place of any justice who is unable to.

State Attorney General Peter Michael filed a petition for rehearing Wednesday, saying the court should either reverse or clarify its original decision. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to grant the state's petition.

Reach education reporter Leah Todd at 307-266-0592 or leah.todd@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @leahktodd.

(7) comments

Wyoite

The Courts are the last branch of civility, integrity and intellectual capability in our State Govt. The only grown-up in the room.

side oiler
side oiler

Nothing like a relentless witch hunt by a rat pack of phony RINO's.

The guys in the legislature and the governor just don't get it. A witch hunt is too mild.

pappy

To bad Hank Coe didn't show the same kind of ethical integrity as Justice Fox we might not have SF104 and all the mess that came with it.

TBA
TBA

If you Wyoming people had any gumption,you would be on the ball to recall,impeach,fire,run off or whatever it takes to get rid of these people who think they are little dictators.But I doubt if many in Wyoming have the will to do anything but whine.

Pogo

Wyoite what is your position on term limits for our politicians?

Wyoite

I believe the people should be able to elect whomever they want to. Nobody should be disqualified.

That being said, public service should be service and I think we should eliminate the compensation and especially the golden parachute retirement plans for public servants serving in elected office.

Nothing like a servant who earns a salary twice the average salary of the people he "serves".

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