Former AG Says County Can’t Replace Library Board Chief With A Commissioner

With a Wednesday deadline to align the Fremont County Library system with community standards or have the county commission replace the board char with a commissioner, a former Wyoming attorney general says that can’t happen.

Clair McFarland

April 30, 20243 min read

The Fremont County Library's Riverton branch.
The Fremont County Library's Riverton branch. (Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily)

Wyoming’s top attorney advised one of the state’s counties 14 years ago against letting county commissioners replace library board members.

The 2010 Wyoming Attorney General’s opinion counters an April 2 letter in which the Fremont County Commission told the Fremont County Library board to align the libraries with community standards.

If the library board would not fulfill a list of ultimatums by May 1 that included putting pornography filters on kids’ computers and addressing book challenge procedures, then Fremont County Commissioner Mike Jones would replace Library Board Chair Carrie Johnson, the letter says.

The board held an emergency meeting April 17 and discussed the ultimatums, taking several votes to reform library procedures and improve parental controls over children.

In the meantime, Cowboy State Daily learned of a Feb. 9, 2010, opinion by then-Attorney General Bruce A. Salzburg telling the Campbell County Attorney’s Office that commissioners can’t replace library board members because the two bodies are “incompatible.”

That’s Not The Law, Though

State attorney general opinions do not carry the force of law, but they are highly respected, Fremont County Deputy Civil Attorney Nathan Maxon told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

Jones’ willingness to step up and fill Johnson’s position if necessary is “praiseworthy,” said Maxon. “However, that may not occur.”

The commission probably would have to appoint someone other than one of its own members if it chooses to terminate Johnson’s term, he said.

Maxon said he expects the attorney general’s opinion “will be followed” until a court issues a different opinion subject to the force of law.

He also referenced a state law providing for the removal of library board members upon a showing of misconduct or negligence.

If the commission tries to remove Johnson or another board member on those grounds, the commission would give that person a hearing where she could speak for herself, Maxon said.

Maybe Some Other Way

Commissioner Mike Jones said the county is aware of the state’s legal advice, but also has other options for addressing library board issues.

“We’re aware of that and we’re just considering it,” Jones told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday, one day before the commission’s ultimatums are due to reach their Wednesday deadline. “While we may have indicated a direction, I think we still will probably consider options once we get their response.”

Jones said the commission would be addressing these topics “shortly.”

He said he did not know yet whether the library board had fulfilled the commission’s ultimatums.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter