August 16, 2023 |
Photo – Medicine Bow town limit sign – Bigfoot99 file photo
Medicine Bow officials have chosen a new town attorney following the resignation of the previous attorney.
The attorney for the town of Medicine Bow, Robert Piper of Coal Creek Law in Laramie, recently resigned. The exact date of Piper’s resignation is unknown. Repeated calls to the Medicine Bow town hall have gone unanswered.
Attorney Piper presided over the July 10th council meeting where Councilman Bradley Buum was chosen as mayor and the meeting adjourned abruptly. Piper said Buum’s appointment caused a lack of quorum because the mayor couldn’t vote. Piper ended the meeting saying District Judge Honorable Dawnessa Snyder would need to step in to select new town council members and create another quorum.
Four days later, on July 14th, Medicine Bow officials held a special meeting to address the lack of governance. In the meeting minutes provided by the town, Attorney Piper said a 2014 amendment to Wyoming statute 15.1.107 allowed the mayor to vote.
The attorney said the council did, in fact, have a quorum. However, Piper said, “that he advised adjourning the meeting because it was the option to which no liability attached.”
Sometime between July 14th and this Tuesday’s town council meeting, Piper resigned as Medicine Bow’s attorney. During Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Buum introduced the town’s new legal counsel, Cameron Smith. A resident attending the meeting asked if the council had voted for the new attorney in secret. Councilman Justin George said Smith’s official appointment would occur later in the meeting.
Smith said he works for Pence and MacMillan, a Laramie based law firm. Smith said Mayor Buum contacted him a week before Tuesday’s meeting and asked him about representing the town. The attorney said he will bill the town $225 an hour, a rate he said is set by the partners at Pence and MacMillan. Smith said he has agreed not to charge the town more than $4,000 a month.
Smith said the legal contract between the town and his law firm allows either party to end the agreement at any time.
The attorney said Pence and MacMillan is representing the newly formed Carbon County Fire Protection District. Smith said if Medicine Bow takes legal action against the Fire Protection District for any reason, he will have to recuse himself from that case.
Smith said he’s worked at Pence and MacMillan for six months. Prior to that, Smith said he worked for the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office representing the Department of Family Services. According to his LinkedIn profile, Smith has been practicing law since 2019.
Smith said he doesn’t specialize in municipal law, but said he would take the time to study the Wyoming statue covering towns and cities, Title 15. The attorney said if he doesn’t know the answer to a basic legal question, he will use his own time to find.
A resident asked Smith if he was briefed on the town’s legal matters by the previous attorney, Robert Piper. Smith said he isn’t concerned with the town’s past troubles. However, the new attorney said he will consult with Piper if more information is needed.
The Medicine Bow council entered executive session to discuss hiring Smith to represent the town. After about 15 minutes, the meeting resumed. Councilman George motioned to make Carmeron Smith the town’s new attorney. Councilwoman Sharon Kahl seconded. The motion passed.
A member of the audience pointed out that Mayor Buum didn’t vote. With only two council members present at Tuesday’s meeting, the mayor’s vote was required for a motion to pass. Councilman George motioned again to hire Attorney Smith. Mayor Buum voted yes. The motion passed again.