Friday, April 24, 2020 8:09 AM
Regarding Your (Weisman) upcoming meeting with Mr Maury Jones, Thursday April 16, 2:30 PM in respect to County “stay at home’ order.
Ms. Weisman: (Teton County AND Prosecuting Attorney)
Earlier this week, Mr. Jones told me you cancelled the April 16 meeting scheduled with him, stating you saw no point in meeting.
As I said in my April 15 email to you about County Order #20-4, I understand the concerns which led Teton County’s health officer to issue the Order. I can also understand your position that the Order is valid legally and defensible. After all, this is your job. And I have no doubt that the Order is at least initially defensible, citing state law, in local and state courts.
You made your own decision to ignore Mr. Jones and his arguments. In my case, although I did not request a reply, you did not respond to me either. I realize it’s possible you consider us to be gadflies, our views those of cranks and unworthy of consideration. Only you know, and you do not owe us explanation.
However, allow me to observe that we are, after all, your constituents. In my experience, elected officials typically feel a tug of obligation to discuss with their constituents matters which weigh on their minds. Whatever you think of the merits of our arguments, I’d hope you will acknowledge that Mr. Jones thought carefully about the implications of the Order for our rights and those of our neighbors. I have too. Please respect at least this.
Far more important than responding to a constituent, I ask you – at minimum – to acknowledge that there are constitutional issues at hand which arguably intrude on your position and in favor of our observations and objections.
Related to my views, I have several questions for you which I respectfully ask you to answer, as follows:
- Do you believe WRS 35-1-240 (a) (iii) gives the County the absolute right of general quarantine of the entire population in that person’s home, including even those not known to be, or not suspected to have been, exposed or exhibiting any symptoms of disease? In other words, is the statutory authority you cite right so broad that every person in the county falls under the authority of this Order?
- Do you believe you have authority to prosecute violations of the Order? If so, what might be the penalties you seek?
- In the same vein, do you think there are any limits to the quarantine authority? If so, what are those? For example, would the Order be legal if issued with no exceptions, instead of the few it included?
- The Wyoming constitution, Article 1, Section 7, states “Absolute, arbitrary power over the lives, liberty and property of freemen exists nowhere in a republic, …..” The Order clearly denies us citizens the right to go to work and to live our lives as we choose. It does not account for the possibility some people may be healthy and others may have immunity.
- Do you believe citizens’ rights conferred by our state constitution are junior to the authority in this statute?
- US Attorney General Barr stated earlier this week that the Department of Justice is examining “stay at home” orders as potentially the legal equivalent of house arrest. As the chief Teton County prosecutor, you could put any of us in jail for an offense, but not without trial (due process of law) required by the Wyoming constitution and the US Constitution. In your view, what is the difference in “due process” between jail following conviction in a trial and this blanket Order to stay at home without right of appeal or evidence of illness or exposure to a person with the disease?
- In general terms, do you believe that an Order which denies a citizen the right to work, to earn one’s living, might be reasonably seen as an uncompensated “taking” by Teton County government?
We all recognize the possibility the virus reappears in Teton County late this year or next year. For those of us who believe this Order is so sweeping as to be arbitrary, and thus a violation of numerous inherent rights we all have as citizens of Wyoming and the United States, it’s important for us to know the answers to these questions. We need to know where you stand on these fundamental questions in case there is a “next time”.
I would sincerely appreciate a reply.
My thanks to you.