After receiving a reversal of a Contempt of Court case against Vern Wagner, Judge Groome, facing a vote on retention on Nov. 2, will now run his courtroom “by the book”. Yet another Contempt of Court hearing for Wagner, scheduled for October 26, will instead be only to “read Wagner his rights”. The actual hearing is now scheduled for Nov. 23.
Groome was reversed and reprimanded in the earlier case because: Wagner was not "(1) afforded a hearing; (2) not afforded the opportunity to plead either guilty or not guilty to the charges; (3) not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; (4) not afforded an opportunity to offer testimony and to call witnesses in his behalf; (5) not afforded an opportunity to cross-examine adverse witnesses; (6) not afforded an opportunity to have subpoenas issued to compel attendance of witnesses at trial; (7) not afforded the right to remain silent; (8) not afforded an opportunity to testify at a trial; and (9) not afforded an opportunity to make a statement in mitigation."
Judge Groome needs to stop acting like an arm of the Park County Sherriff’s Animal Control Department and more like an impartial judge. Having sat through 4 ½ days of an earlier hearing, in which the Department of Agriculture, run by John Stulp, was allowed to confiscate 379 of Wagner’s cattle, sell them, and then put the money in escrow where Wagner can not use it, I saw first hand the bias against Wagner. The “evidence” presented by Animal Control officer Bobbi Priestly was a joke, but Groome allowed it anyway. The arrogant testimony of Scott Dutcher, now infamous for his incessant tweeting as “Skinnyhorse”, should be stricken. The entire proceeding, in my opinion, was a sham, and should also be reversed.
The continued harassment of Vern Wagner must cease. The man is 77 years old and has until now had a successful life as a rancher. The proceedings thus far have made it almost impossible for him to continue in the ranching business.