Now, he is one of three finalists in consideration to replace outgoing Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Keith Kautz selected by the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission.
In a Thursday op-ed, state Reps. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, and Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, criticized Stubson as being too politically involved for being a judge on the state’s highest court and said they hope Gov. Mark Gordon will select one of the other two finalists.
Those are Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Stuart Healy III and Cheyenne attorney Robert Jarosh.
“We hope that Governor Gordon sees the potential to bring the Wyoming Supreme Court into disrepute by placing an active political insider to the bench,” the lawmakers wrote.
Stubson, a Republican, has been at odds with some in the Republican Party on certain issues.
He actively supported former congresswoman Liz Cheney’s 2022 campaign and went on “PBS NewsHour” after her loss to discuss the state of the party, something the state lawmakers cite as one reason to oppose Stubson.
“I still believe that if we can get enough people of courage and integrity to stand up and really call the truth the truth a lie a lie, that we can change the direction of the Republican Party,” Stubson said on PBS. “It may not be the Republican Party it was yesterday, but it can certainly be a lot better than it is today.”
In 2016, he was sued by former Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill for defamation. The lawsuit was dismissed at the district and state Supreme Court levels.
Stubson ran Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign in Wyoming and also is the current chairman of the Wyoming Caucus and Team Wyoming political action committees. Wyoming Caucus Treasurer Rebekah Fitzgerald said his role is purely symbolic and that he takes no active role in the organization.
If Stubson is selected, it won’t be the first time a politically involved member of the public has been chosen for the court.
Current Justice Kari Gray was former Gov. Matt Mead’s chief of staff for almost all of his eight years in office before being selected by Mead to be a justice in 2018.
In his legal career, Stubson has handled a wide variety of cases outside the political theater. According to his biography on the Crowley Fleck website, he focuses on complex commercial litigation including litigation in the areas of employment, banking, construction, oil and gas and health care.
Healy And Jarosh
Also being considered for justice is Healy, who was appointed by Gordon to be a district judge in 2020 and was reelected in 2022 by the voters of Campbell, Crook and Weston counties.
In August, Healy dismissed a $24 million lawsuit filed against the city of Gillette for alleged civil rights violations when an atheist sued the city over prayers at council meetings.
Healy had served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for 15 years prior to his appointment. He previously served as an assistant county attorney in Sheridan County and as an attorney in private practice in Sheridan.
Jarosh is a partner at Hirsh Applegate law firm and has been practicing law since 2002. He graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Law and clerked for a federal court judge after.
According to his Hirst Applegate biography, Jarosh’s specialties include civil, employment, commercial, construction and personal Injury litigation, appellate practice and products liability.
Jarosh won an appeal before the Wyoming Supreme Court on behalf of a school district on a breach of contract claim brought by a former teacher. He also successfully tried a construction contract case in federal court and received a $6.2 million verdict and nearly $1 million in interest for a general contractor.
Jarosh also teaches at the University of Wyoming College of Law and is a commentator on the Pokescast podcast, which covers University of Wyoming sports.
Under Wyoming law, supreme court justices must retire at age 70.
Kautz will hit that benchmark on his birthday in March and told WyoFile in November he wouldn’t otherwise step down if it weren't for the law.
When a vacancy occurs on the court, the Judicial Nominating Commission presents three potential candidates to the governor, who then has 30 days to pick the new justice. The Judicial Nominating Commission is made up by Supreme Court Chief Justice Kate Fox, attorneys Katherine Strike of Lander, Devon O’Connell of Laramie and Mandy Good of Cheyenne; and three nonlawyers appointed by Gordon: Paul Scherbel of Afton, Dan Kirkbride of Chugwater and Lisa Anderson of Shell.
Fox told Cowboy State Daily there were 20 applicants for the position, which pays $187,000 a year.
Gordon will have until Jan. 21 to make his selection.
Supreme Court justices can be retained or removed from their positions when up for reelection at the end of their eight-year terms. They also undergo a retention election at the next general election following their first year on the court, which for Kautz’s replacement will be in 2026.
The state Supreme Court will likely rule in the somewhat near future on the fate of Wyoming’s abortion laws, as two bans are currently being challenged at the district court level. Gordon is a defendant in the case.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.