The Jackson Hole Guide from Jackson, Wyoming on April 18, 1974 · 20
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The Jackson Hole Guide from Jackson, Wyoming · 20

Jackson, Wyoming
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 18, 1974
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TThev Tried, By Emory J. Anderson "I came to Jackson just after World War II," Bob Stewart said, "and Jean and I planned to leave as soon as we could get enough money together. Well," and he smiled wryly, "it hasn't hap pened yet." Bob and Jean Stewart are two ot Jackson's better known residents. Bob is Justice of the Peace and owns the Jackson Insurance Agency. Jean is his assistant, helper, or whatever, but wears no official title, at least that we could find. The Stewarts live at 187 East Broadway where the insurance office is located. The insurance agent and justice operate out of the same office. J P Sees Them First Most criminal cases, in fact nearly all criminal cases in Jackson, make a first appearance before Justice Stewart. Minor cases are settled then and there with a fine, not guilty, or a dismissal. In felonies, or if the defendant desires, they are bound over to district court. "What I do is determine if there is sufficient evidence to justify a criminal case. If there is, then the case is taken to district court," Bob continued. "Part of the problem is the record keeping and the relatively low fees paid the justices. Every case has to be recorded and filed and this takes up a lot of time, much more than the fee would justify." No Law Practice At one time a justice of peace performed his duties in addition to a law practice or some other profession of that sort; that is not so now. "When I first started as a JP seven years ago, I handled 100 cases the first year. In a report which I just filed, in the past 14 months, I handled 1,400 cases." Bob does this in addition to his insurance business, which, incidentally, has been growing also. One of the most interesting traits of the Stewarts is their sense of humor. Bob, of course accompanied by Jean, is best known for performing wedding ceremonies in odd and interesting places. Rafts, Sleighs And Snowmobiles He once married a couple as the wedding party floated via rubber rafts down the Snake River. Another couple was married on a sleigh in the National Elk Refuge. And Bob has performed many wedding ceremonies requiring snow machine rides to remote areas. Last Sept. 1, Bob raced to perform four ceremonies in far corners of Teton County. "I'll go almost anywhere to get people married." One husband to be suggested that the wedding party be helicoptered to the top of the Grand Teton for the wedding ceremony. The idea was scrapped. "That was going too far," Bob said. The JP reports that the stickiest problems he has to solve, are the domestic squabbles. In other word s... family fights. "The fights come with changes in the weather. In some places hot weather causes family out breaks but not in Jackson. It's never hot enough here to raise anyone's ire. But changes in the weather cause the ions to flow and go on a rampage. If a fight starts on Friday, it'll last all weekend." Ions, Not People "Bob likes to think that the ions are on the rampage," Jean injected with a laugh. "It's not the people's fault, it's just the ions." "I really think that the change in atmospheric pressure has a lot to do with people's temperments," Bob said put y ney II if era seriously. "If they could hang onto their tempers for a while, then the ions would go back the other way." "What's the hardest thing about being a Justice of the Peace?" I asked. Bob thought for a while and then said that it was just keeping up with the law changes and trying to do his job in a legal way. A Grass Roots Guy "A J P doesn't need to be a lawyer or a trained judge. H's supposed to be a grass roots guy who sits between fwo other people with different opinions and tries to work out a solution to the problem." "I consider it to be grass roots justice," I said. "That's right," Bob agreed. "The JP handles minor law offenses, misdemeanors, small traffic violations and disturbances. But the major crimes must go before district court where the defendant and procedures are legally broader in scope. "We don't use a qrand iurv svstem here in Wyoming. Normally, probable cause tor trial is handled by the J P. If a big case, perhaps a felony, the evidence is presented to the J P who then accepts a not guilty plea or returns a not guilty plea for the defendant if he doesn't speak. The case is then ready for district court." Expensive Grand Jury "Some areas of the country use the grand jury system and we could here in this state but it has to be called by the district judge. A grand jury is very expensive. It's much cheaper and just as fair to the defendant to have him appear before the justice." The Justice of the Peace business has grown in the past few years and is likely to continue. "Part of it is from the natural growth in Teton County population," Bob pointed out, "but a larger reason concerns changes in the laws and a difference in the legal operations with court cases during recent years. This has all come about because of U.S. Supreme Court rulings which have affected all of us." "There's been a growth in the number of civil cases which I have been called upon to handle. I think it's because people are more aware than ever that the service is available." A Jackson Native Jean Stewart was born and raised in Jackson Hole. Her father was Roy Van Vleck who owned the Merc in Jackson, one of the earliest stores. Jean attended Colorado State University where she met Bob who was fresh out of the Navy, and was just finishing his degree in accounting. After their marriage when it came time for their first baby, Richard, Jr., to be born, Jean wanted to come back to Jackson. The plan was to stay in Jackson just long enough for the birth and then go back to CSU where Bob planned to get a Ph.D. in accounting. "As soon as we got enough money saved, we were going to take off," Bob said, but this never happened. Complications developed with the birth of their son so to help pay for the hospital and doctor bills, Bob went to work for his father-in law at the Merc. Later he joined the Jackson State Bank where he remained for about 20 years and the position of vice president. New Business Seven years ago he left to start his own business. "I got into the Justice of the Peace thing almost as a fluke," Bob remem bered. "I was attending a council meeting one day and Ralph Gill told me that the JP job was open, and he suggested I take it. Why, I didn't want to be a justice since I didn't know anything about it. But Ralph told me that his ' 1 ' ivr ur . ' '. I THURSDAY, APRIL II, 1174, JACKSON HOLE GUIDE 31 MG n a A mm i r . m wl i a V .. i "... k i . &f St . :i r . ! v. s? n I - If,.-- V Jf JV M V. V 1 H 4 I ' f ) ik I J Guldt Staff Photo By Elliabcfh McCabo A Visit With Bob & Jean Stewart father had been a JP and if he could do Robert Jr. is now director of education it, I could do it. I found out later that his for the North Dakota School for the Deaf, father had only been a JP for one Rebecca Rooks lives with her husband In ""'onth!" Douglas, Wyo. and Richard just recently qof married. ...with a JP Stewart wed The Stewarts have three children dinq of course. Press Photogs To Meet Here In 75 : The National Press ' Photoqraphrrs Association (NPPA) will hold its an nual Business and Education Seminar at Jackson Lake Lodge in June 195, the Wyoming Bicentennial Commission announced. The NPPA convention annually brings toqefher the top newspaper, maqaine and television photoqraphers from all over the nation, according to Pat Hall, Executive Director of the WBC. The 1975 convention is scheduled for Jackson I ake lodge, n'ar Jackson, June ?4 ?9, 1975. "The NPPA's decision lo come to Wyoming is the t'vsult ol a Oint rllorl by the WBC and the Wyoming Travel Commission," Hall said. "Though Wyoming was competing tor the convention with other, more populous states, we believe Wyoming's ..physical beauty coupled :with the bid package we put together was very influential in the NPPA's final determination of a site for their 195 ton vention." Coming a year prior to 1976, the Bicentennial year, the NPPA con vention will result in enormous publicity benefits to Wyoming on a national and international basis, Hall stressed. "While we have already received commitments from resorts and quides in the Jackson area lor the hostinq of many con vention activities, we are still lookinq for possible pre and post convention tours to get these photographers into other areas of Wyoming." Hall said As Executive Director of the WBC and a former national officer of the NPPA, Hall has been appointed a; the official chairman and host of the I975 NPPA convention Frontier Pleased Passengers In 73 Denver based Frontier Airlines led all U.S. regional, or local service, carriers in pleasing its customers in I973, ac cording to a report in the March 1974 edition of "Air Transport World," a major airline industry publication. According to data Supplied by the Civil Aeronautics Board's Office of Consumer Affairs, the magaino reported Frontier had only 3.75 complaints for every 100,000 passenger em planements This com pared with 7.S8 complaints per 100,000 passenger emplanements for the local service airline with the most complaints Frontier, which serves !6 states and 109 com mumties, boarded more than three million passengers in 1 9 ? 3 According to A L Feldman, president and chief executive officer, "the CAB's statistics reflect Frontier's com mitment to provide dependable, on time performance and quality customer service Our 3,400 employees work hard at this, and we will ton tinue to strive for an t-ven better record "

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