Feb 26, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterFremont County Attorney Michael Bennett hopes to continue working on several projects and representing Fremont County residents in court by seeking a second term in office.
Bennett announced Tuesday that he is running for the Republican nomination for Fremont County Attorney. He was appointed to his post in March after his predecessor Brian Varn resigned.
"(I plan to) continue forward with the juvenile justice initiatives and continue to make paperless a reality for all aspects of my office and continue to represent the people of Fremont County and the State of Wyoming both in the courtroom and outside of the courtroom," he said.
The juvenile justice alternatives program started in the summer of 2012 as a way to rehabilitate youths convicted of crimes without sending them to prison. Components include counseling, drug courts, an alternative school and community service opportunities.
With the paperless project, the county attorney's office is making changes to use less paper. The plan is to use and store most files in digital formats.
"So far, all misdemeanors and most felonies are paperless," Bennett said.
The project began when Varn was in office, and Bennett said he has continued it, and it saves money and time.
"It cuts down on office supplies, it cuts down on the need to copy, and it just cuts down on the storage space for old files," Bennett said.
His office has to keep files for seven years, 10 years or indefinitely depending on the type of case, he said. Storage rooms for the old files are "bursting at the seams," and storing new records electronically would alleviate the problem, Bennett said.
Bennett plans to run in the Republican primary in August and, if successful, the general election in November.
Building a new Riverton justice center will help his office serve the county, Bennett said.
"The new justice center in Riverton will be an exciting addition to Fremont County Government, and one that is long overdue," he said. "Dispensing justice in an old hay barn presents unnecessary obstacles, and our residents deserve better."
He said he is happy with his handling of cases.
"I'm proud of all my cases, I'm just happy to do my job, and we think that my office is serving the residents of Fremont County well, and we'll continue to set the standard pretty high for all my offices," he said. "We hope to be able to continue that service in the future."
He puts high importance on involving victims in deciding how to resolve cases, he said.
"Certainly victim input in any and all stages of a case is extremely important, and it is one of the top priorities for my office to involve victim input when appropriate," he said.
Several elected officials in Fremont County resigned midway through their terms last year, including the previous county attorney, but Bennett does not plan to follow their lead.
"I would not ask people for their vote if I did not intend to give them a full four-year term," he said.
Bennett has a bachelor's and a master's degrees in Spanish and a law degree from the University of Wyoming. He lives in Lander with his wife, Patricia, and graduated from Lander Valley High School in 1992.
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