Fontaine v. Board of County Com'rs of Park County, No. 99-68.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtTHOMAS, Justice.
PartiesMarie FONTAINE, in her official capacity as the County Clerk for Park County, State of Wyoming, Appellant (Petitioner), v. BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF PARK COUNTY, State of Wyoming, Appellee (Respondent).
Docket NumberNo. 99-68.
Decision Date11 April 2000

4 P.3d 890

Marie FONTAINE, in her official capacity as the County Clerk for Park County, State of Wyoming, Appellant (Petitioner),
v.
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF PARK COUNTY, State of Wyoming, Appellee (Respondent)

No. 99-68.

Supreme Court of Wyoming.

April 11, 2000.


4 P.3d 891
Representing Appellant: Joseph E. Darrah and S. Joseph Darrah of Darrah & Darrah, Powell, Wyoming

Representing Appellee: Bradley D. Bonner, Park County Civil Attorney, Powell, Wyoming.

Before LEHMAN, C.J., and THOMAS, MACY, GOLDEN, and HILL, JJ.

THOMAS, Justice.

The primary issue in this case is found in the claim by Marie Fontaine (Fontaine), the County Clerk for Park County, that Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 18-3-402(a)(i)(A)—(D) (Lexis 1999) requires her to attend executive sessions of the Board of County Commissioners (the Board) to make minutes and preserve a record of such meetings. A collateral issue is raised concerning the adequacy of public notice by the Board of administrative meetings of the Board with the county staff. The district court ruled that the statute did not require the attendance of Fontaine at executive sessions of the Board, and it also ruled that no detailed agenda need be published of the administrative meetings with the county staff. Although we agree with the decision of the district court that no detailed agenda is required for administrative meetings of the Board with its staff, we are satisfied that the statute, properly construed, requires the attendance of Fontaine at the executive sessions to make minutes and preserve a record of those meetings. The Declaratory Judgment entered in the district court is affirmed in part and reversed in part. The case is remanded to the district court for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

This statement of the issues is found in the Brief of Appellant, which was filed on behalf of Fontaine:

a. Whether the county clerk is required to attend all meetings of the county commissioners pursuant to W.S. § 18-3-402(a)(i)(A)—(D) which states that the county clerk shall attend all sessions of the board of county commissioners, record all proceedings of the board, and make regular entries of all the board's resolutions, orders and decisions when the board refuses the county clerk's attendance at executive sessions.
b. Whether the Park County Commissioners violate W.S. § 16-4-401 et seq. when the board has failed to provide adequate notice of meetings pertaining to scheduled discussions, deliberations and consultations related to matters of public business.

This Statement of the Issues is found in the Brief of Appellee, filed for the Board:

1. Whether the District Court properly granted summary judgment, ruling that the Park County Board of County Commissioners may exclude any person, including the County Clerk, from its executive sessions.
2. Whether the District Court properly granted summary judgment, ruling that the Park County Board of County Commissioners is not required to publish detailed notice of meeting agendas
4 P.3d 892
where only "day to day" administrative activity is being conducted.

The Board is the governing body of Park County, and is an agency within the definition set forth in the Wyoming Public Meetings Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 16-4-401 through 16-4-407 (Lexis 1999).1 The Board holds three types of meetings: regular meetings, staff meetings, and executive sessions. Regular meetings take place each Tuesday, and are open to the public. A Commissioners' Agenda is available to the public and the media in advance of each regular meeting. Staff meetings are generally held on Tuesdays before the regular meetings; they are open to the public, but the matters to be addressed are not included on the Commissioners' Agenda or any other document provided to the public. Executive sessions are open only to Board members and their invitees.

Fontaine began serving as the elected County Clerk of Park County in 1979, and was the County Clerk at the time she commenced this action. Earlier in her tenure as County Clerk, Fontaine had attended all types of meetings the Board held for the purpose of taking the minutes. At some point, however, the Board decided that minutes of its executive sessions were not required, and Fontaine was informed that she no longer would be required or even permitted to attend executive sessions. Following that advice, no minutes of either staff meetings or executive sessions are taken or kept by the Board.

Fontaine requested access to the executive sessions, but her request was denied. She filed this complaint on February 24, 1998, seeking a declaratory judgment that, by statute, she is required to, and therefore must be allowed to, attend and record all meetings and proceedings of the Board. She further sought a declaration that all meetings involving public matters must be open to the public and must be publicized in advance, including sufficiently descriptive agendas of staff meetings and executive sessions. The Board moved for, and received, a summary judgment in its favor. Fontaine filed a timely appeal to this Court.

When this Court reviews a summary judgment denying a petition for a declaratory judgment, we invoke our usual standard for review of summary judgments. Board of County Com'rs v. Geringer, 941 P.2d 742, 745 (Wyo.1997); Kunard v. Enron Oil & Gas Co., 869 P.2d 132, 134 (Wyo.1994). The summary judgment can be sustained only when no genuine issues of material fact are present and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. W.R.C.P. 56; Kirby v. NMC/Continue Care, 993 P.2d 951, 952 (Wyo.1999); Selby v. Conquistador Apartments, Ltd., 990 P.2d 491, 494 (Wyo. 1999); Roberts v. Klinkosh, 986 P.2d 153, 155 (Wyo.1999); Century Ready-Mix Co. v. Campbell County School Dist., 816 P.2d 795, 798 (Wyo.1991). The court must consider the record in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, and give to that party the benefit of all favorable inferences that fairly may be drawn from the record. Snyder v. Lovercheck, 992 P.2d 1079, 1083 (Wyo.1999) (quoting 40 North Corp. v. Morrell, 964 P.2d 423, 426 (Wyo.1998)); Selby, 990 P.2d at 494; Bluejacket v. Carney, 550 P.2d 494, 497 (Wyo.1976). In this instance, there is no contention that any genuine issue of material fact exists, and our concern is strictly with the application of the law. Questions of application of the law, including identification of the correct rule, are considered de novo. Kirby, 993 P.2d at 952. If the summary judgment can be affirmed under any proper legal theory presented in the record, we will do so. In re HC, 983 P.2d 1205, 1209 (Wyo.1999); Century Ready-Mix Co., 816 P.2d at 799 (citing Reeves v. Boatman, 769 P.2d 917, 918 (Wyo.1989)).

On the first issue, Fontaine argues that Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 18-3-402(a)(i) establishes her position that the county clerk must attend and record all meetings of the Board,

4 P.3d 893
including executive sessions. The statute provides, in the part pertinent to this case
(a) The county clerk shall:
(i) Act as clerk to the board of county commissioners and as such shall:
(A) Attend all sessions of the board of county
...

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  • Hede v. Gilstrap, No. 04-22.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 28, 2005
    ...v. Casper Community College Dist., 2001 WY 86, ¶ 11, 31 P.3d 1242, 1247 (Wyo.2001); Fontaine v. Board of County Com'rs of Park County, 4 P.3d 890, 892 "This Court reviews a summary judgment in the same light as the district court, using the same materials and following the same standards." ......
  • Huff v. Shumate, No. 02-CV-1047-D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Wyoming
    • September 30, 2004
    ...of construction to ascertain a legislative intent that is reasonable and consistent. Fontaine v. Board of County Comm'rs of Park County, 4 P.3d 890, 894-95 (Wyo.2000) (internal quotations and citations Application of these principles of interpretation to the statute in question leads Page 1......
  • State ex rel. Wyo. Dept. of Revenue v. UPRC, No. 02-70
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 30, 2003
    ...stated: In interpreting statutes, our primary consideration is to determine the legislature's intent. Fontaine v. Board of County Comm'rs, 4 P.3d 890, 894 (Wyo.2000); State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732, 736 (Wyo.1983). Legislative intent must be ascertained initially an......
  • Meyer v. Fanning (In re Estate of Meyer), No. S–15–0134.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 20, 2016
    ...Wyo. Cmty. Coll. Comm'n v. Casper Cmty. Coll. Dist., 2001 WY 86, ¶¶ 16–17, 31 P.3d 1242, 1249 (Wyo.2001); Fontaine v. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 4 P.3d 890, 894 (Wyo.2000); State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732, 736 (Wyo.1983). We examine the plain and ordinary meaning of the wo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
30 cases
  • Hede v. Gilstrap, No. 04-22.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 28, 2005
    ...v. Casper Community College Dist., 2001 WY 86, ¶ 11, 31 P.3d 1242, 1247 (Wyo.2001); Fontaine v. Board of County Com'rs of Park County, 4 P.3d 890, 892 "This Court reviews a summary judgment in the same light as the district court, using the same materials and following the same standards." ......
  • Huff v. Shumate, No. 02-CV-1047-D.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Wyoming
    • September 30, 2004
    ...of construction to ascertain a legislative intent that is reasonable and consistent. Fontaine v. Board of County Comm'rs of Park County, 4 P.3d 890, 894-95 (Wyo.2000) (internal quotations and citations Application of these principles of interpretation to the statute in question leads Page 1......
  • State ex rel. Wyo. Dept. of Revenue v. UPRC, No. 02-70
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 30, 2003
    ...stated: In interpreting statutes, our primary consideration is to determine the legislature's intent. Fontaine v. Board of County Comm'rs, 4 P.3d 890, 894 (Wyo.2000); State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732, 736 (Wyo.1983). Legislative intent must be ascertained initially an......
  • Meyer v. Fanning (In re Estate of Meyer), No. S–15–0134.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 20, 2016
    ...Wyo. Cmty. Coll. Comm'n v. Casper Cmty. Coll. Dist., 2001 WY 86, ¶¶ 16–17, 31 P.3d 1242, 1249 (Wyo.2001); Fontaine v. Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 4 P.3d 890, 894 (Wyo.2000); State ex rel. Motor Vehicle Div. v. Holtz, 674 P.2d 732, 736 (Wyo.1983). We examine the plain and ordinary meaning of the wo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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