Volume 103, Number 22 - February 1, 2007
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Retired Judge eats “crow”
Retired Sublette County Circuit Court Judge John V. Crow was publicly censured by the Wyoming Supreme Court and ordered to pay almost $12,000 in costs and fees to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics.
The commission found Judge Crow to be in violation of two dictates of the Judicial Code of Conduct, both relating to his inaction over the behavior of his wife and ex-Clerk of Court, Jacqueline Ingersoll.
Judge Crow and Ingersoll were married in 2001; she had been his secretary in the county attorney’s office since 1989 and became “romantically involved” with him during that period, according to the commission. When Crow was appointed to the Circuit Court bench in 1995, he immediately appointed Ingersoll clerk of court. According to the commission’s report, three deputy clerks quit within a five-month period because of Ingersoll’s behavior toward them.
Through interviews, the commission found that Ingersoll was disrespectful and rude to members of the public as well. However, Betty Golden, who quit the deputy clerk position in August 2005 after holding it for five years, said she left the job after finding a better position with the county.
“I didn’t quit because of how she treated me,” Golden explained. She had told the commission that Ingersoll “was impossible to please.”
Golden later said that Ingersoll was a perfectionist, and that the job “had its ups and downs just like anything but I knew her personality.” Golden feels that the censure on Judge Crow is “completely unfair.” She added that she respected him as a judge and describes him as a “wonderful man to work for.”
However, deputy clerk Julie Helzer, who quit after three months under Ingersoll, blamed the abusive behavior dealt to her and the public by Ingersoll as her reason for vacating the position.
“I don’t think I have ever felt more worthless, humiliated and downright stupid in all my life,” she wrote in her resignation letter. “I cannot tolerate the rude, angry and abusive treatment dealt to the public,” she said of Ingersoll’s conduct.
Helzer had been a deputy clerk for fourteen years in the Laramie County Circuit Court, and also highly praised Judge Crow. Sandy Meeks quit the deputy clerk position after two days because working there “was beyond any stress she has ever known.” The commission confirmed with employees of other agencies who dealt with or work near the Circuit Court that Ingersoll’s behavior was inappropriate.
Ingersoll resigned as clerk of court in February 2006, after an investigation into Helzer’s resignation.
The commission censured Judge Crow for violating a code of conduct which states, “A judge shall be patient, dignified and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals with in an official capacity, and shall require similar conduct of lawyers, and of staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control.”
Multiple witnesses told the commission that when problems arose between themselves and Ingersoll, he told them to deal with it themselves.
The commission also censured Judge Crow for nepotism and favoritism of a member of his staff, which the code dictates he will avoid. Ingersoll held a part-time job which conflicted with the working hours of the court, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many ex-employees or members of the public told the commission through interviews and surveys that Ingersoll rarely came to work before 9:30 a.m., and often left at 4 p.m. Ingersoll’s other employment kept her until 9:30.
Court policies state that other employment is only allowed outside normal working hours of the court, yet Judge Crow never reproached Ingersoll for her second job. Crow retired from the bench in December 2006.
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