From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 28 - October 2, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Rancher Settles For SCSO Apology, Damages

by Janet Montgomery

What began as a $1.75-million damages claim was settled last week with an apology and $50,000 to the Sublette County rancher arrested and jailed after he called the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) in April 2007 to report he had shot a bear in his sheep herd.

“I appreciate that Sheriff Bardy Bardin has apologized,” Jim Urbigkit said in a release Monday. “I recognize the difference between personal responsibility and professional responsibility. Bardy Bardin was in charge of the sheriff’s department, and he stepped up and took responsibility, even though he did not participate in the arrest.”

As part of the lawsuit settlement agreement, the SCSO issued an apology for arresting Urbigkit in the April 2007 incident.

The Sept. 25 written apology from Bardin reads: “Mr. Urbigkit was inappropriately arrested after he requested that his legal counsel be present during any questioning. The sheriff’s office recognizes and acknowledges that citizens do have a right to counsel in such circumstances and will do what is necessary and appropriate to uphold this constitutional right.”

The settlement of the case also included $50,000, which covers the attorney fees and costs that have accrued since April 2007, according to the release.

Represented by Elizabeth Greenwood of Pinedale and Frank Chapman of Casper in the federal case,Urbigkit initially filed a claim with the Sublette County Commissioners in August 2007.

The claim stated that Urbigkit’s constitutional and civil rights were violated by an unlawful detention, false arrest and false imprisonment when Urbigkit was arrested on April 22, 2007, for interference with an officer. Urbigkit had called the SCSO to report he had shot a bear in his sheepherd. The claim also alleged battery, abuse of authority and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

That claim was denied and a lawsuit was filed in federal court against the SCSO for violation of Urbigkit’s constitutional rights in the illegal arrest, “in (Urbigkit’s) attempt to ensure such an action would not occur again in the future.”

In April 2007, Urbigkit shot a black bear in his sheep pasture. After Urbigkit notified law enforcement officers about the bear shooting, a deputy arrived at the Urbigkit residence and arrested Urbigkit when he requested his attorney be present for questioning.

Urbigkit was arrested and placed in the Sublette County Detention Center overnight, cited for interference with a peace officer – a charge that the Sublette County Attorney’s Office failed to file with the court. When the date for his court appearance arrived, Urbigkit learned that the case had been dropped.

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