by barbara anne greene
The Big Horn County Commissioners on Monday selected Marcia Bean to replace current county attorney Kim Adams, who recently resigned.
Only two of the commissioners were able to interview the three candidates for the job. Commissioner John Hyde sent an email to Chairperson Felix Carrizales and Deb Craft, asking to be excused. He cited a personal matter that kept him from being there and told the two that he felt they could handle the appointment without him.
The Big Horn County Republican Party provided the commissioners a list of three candidates to consider. Those three, in order of the party’s preference, were Michelle Burns, Bean and Kim Mickelson. The three candidates were interviewed on Monday by Carrizales and Craft.
Carrizales said in a phone interview later that day that he greatly appreciates each of the candidates and their willingness to do the job. “I have respect for the three ladies for stepping forward at this unusual time in the county. None of us anticipated we would need to appoint a county attorney at any time. They each put time and effort in to this. We appreciate this,” Carrizales said.
He also appreciated the numerous calls he and Craft received from people in the county. He also noted that the references that each candidate provided factored into their decision, as did the interviews.
Bean, who is the current deputy and prosecuting attorney in Hot Springs County, said in an interview on Monday that she is excited about the opportunity. She said will be moving to Big Horn County as soon as possible. Until she can find a home for purchase, she will be staying in the home of someone in Basin.
She and her husband Joe Davis came to Wyoming on vacation in 1995. They fell in love with the state, returned home, quit their jobs and moved here. They lived a variety of places in Wyoming, including Riverton and Thermopolis.
Her law degree comes from the Western New England School of Law in Springfield, Mass. During the interview last week with the Big Horn County Republican party, she was asked if she had any plans or interest in seeking other positions in the county’s judicial system in the next one to two years. Bean indicated at that meeting and during this interview that she had none. In fact, she said she hopes to retire from here when it is time for retirement. Bean also indicated that she would run for county attorney this fall.
When asked why she applied for the appointment, Bean said people from this county approached her, encouraging her to apply for this position. She will start June 2, although she said the current county attorney staff has already welcomed her and opened up the office to her. She hopes that the staff will stay during her tenure.
Bean said she has already met with law enforcement as well as circuit and district court staff. One of the first things she will do when she takes the office, she said, is to get familiar with the cases and procedures. Reestablishing the juvenile service board is a priority, as well as looking at the county’s Single Point Entry program. This program works very well in Hot Springs and is a collaboration of many agencies to decide the appropriate path/sentencing for youth without putting them in the system, she said. This could mean a diversion program. Familiarizing herself with the county’s murder case is also a priority.
When asked about plea bargains, Bean said it is the process that gives the term a bad name. No county can afford to try every case, as it would make the county bankrupt. She added that the courts would fold in on themselves with the caseload.
When done properly, a plea bargain can be a good thing. She said, the victim is always front and center, he or she has to be consulted and it has to be explained what the plea bargain is and why it is on the table.
Law enforcement plays another key role in plea bargains, according to Bean. They, too, have to understand why and the terms. She said the best way to resolve a case is for everyone to be on the same page. Bean said that the county attorney’s office has to be victim- and law enforcement-centered. She wants everyone to feel welcome and know they are an important part of the office.
“I hope that Big Horn County will welcome me. I’m excited and have already met some really good people.” She starts the job officially on June 2, 2018.
Mickelson, who was passed over for the job, holds no ill will toward Bean, saying, “Marcia will be a wonderful asset to Big Horn County. I’m excited and looking forward to working with her and learning from her.”