Last week 4th Judicial District Court Judge John Fenn heard arguments at a hearing concerning a lawsuit between the City of Sheridan and the Sheridan Press. The newspaper had asked the court to place a preliminary injunction on the City that would effectively halt the police chief hiring process that is underway. The plaintiff argued that the injunction would give the court time to rule on the lawsuit that requested the names of the candidates for Sheridan Police Chief. The City had previously refused to release the information based on the fact that it was prevented from disclosing job applications by state law.
Judge Fenn denied the preliminary injunction in an oral decision issued this morning. Fenn had examined all of the application information provided to the court. He also ruled that the itineraries of the candidates must be released but reserved judgment on the e-mail correspondence until a decision is issued on the lawsuit itself. The Judge made it clear that the applications themselves are protected and cannot be disclosed to the public.
During his comments, Judge Fenn noted that state law provides no avenue for public input in the discretionary hiring practices of the City and there is no expectation that there is any amount of control entitled to the public at large.
The Court also denied the newspaper’s request to expedite the case. Fenn noted that this case is no more important than any other case on his docket and it will have to wait its turn like any action filed with the court.