(WSA Sub Neg 22065, Albany County courtroom interior, 1886)
Wyoming's women have been involved in executing the state's laws since 1870. Here are a few of the many notable women in Wyoming's legal history.
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Dr. Grace Raymond Hebard of Laramie was the first woman admitted to practice law in Wyoming on December 22, 1914. She had been admitted to practice before the district court in Laramie on November 18, 1898.
Hebard was also a professor at the University of Wyoming, a University trustee 1891-1903. She was also a prolific collector and author of pieces on Wyoming history, including a book on Sacagawea and her burial on the Wind River Reservation.
Phillips of Newcastle and Casper was the 1st woman to practice law in Wyoming. She was admitted to the Wyoming Bar on April 19, 1920, soon after she moved to Wyoming from Seattle, Washington. Phillips held a master's degree from Wellesley College and a law degree from the University of Washington. Following her marriage a few years later, she moved to Roswell, New Mexico.
Harris, of Casper, was the 1st woman to argue a case before the Wyoming Supreme Court in 1927.
State Librarian 1949-1951
Assistant Wyoming Attorney General 1955-1959
Crowley was the first woman appointed to the position in Wyoming.
Law Clerk to U.S. District Judge
Judge's first law clerk and first female law clerk in the U.S. District Courts in Wyoming.
Wyoming House of Representatives 1973-1987
President of the Laramie County Bar Association 1974-1975
Crowley was also active in private practice starting in 1953. Her husband, Tosh Suyematsu, was also a lawyer, judge and US District Attorney in Wyoming.
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Justice of the Peace, South Pass City, Wyoming, 1870
Morris holds the distinction of being the first woman in the nation to serve as Justice of the Peace.
Morris is known as the "Mother of Women's Suffrage in Wyoming," a title conferred by her son, newspaper editor E.A. Slack. The story goes that she invited both of Sweetwater County's legislative candidates to her home and secured promises from both that they would introduce an act granting women's suffrage during the first Territorial Assembly. This became known as "Esther's tea party", though later it was said to be a dinner. William H. Bright won the election and did indeed introduce what became known as the Women's Suffrage Act. This story is suspect as very few primary sources exist to support it. Morris herself did not take credit for the legislation. Read more about the story on our Wyoming Suffragists page.
Wyoming Supreme Court 2000-2015
Chief Justice 2010-2014
Justice Kite was the 1st woman appointed to the Wyoming Supreme Court and the 1st woman to lead them as chief justice.
The first jury to contain women was a grand jury in Laramie that sat for a three week court term starting in March 1870, hearing several cases. This also necessitated the first female bailiff, Eliza Stewart Boyd as a man couldn't very well see to the needs of a group of women. In April 1870, a petit jury also including women was called in Laramie.
(WSA H53-42, First mixed jury with women in Wyoming since statehood, May 8, 1950)
According to Cora Beach’s Women of Wyoming, Volume I, it was about this time that the lawyers and pundits began to push for a literal reading of the statue describing jury qualifications. The legislation had been passed prior to the act granting women’s suffrage and thus specified that the jurors be men. As no one pushed to change the law, the Wyoming Supreme Court did not provide a definitive decision, nor was the law changed by the legislature until 1949 (1949 HEA 58). The first mixed jury in the State of Wyoming, and thus the first female jurors in 80 years, sat the next year on May 8, 1950.