Former Ravalli County Treasurer Valerie Stamey’s lawsuit against Ravalli County and the Bitterroot Star drew to a close on May 22 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed her appeal.
Almost a year ago, on June 25, 2017, Stamey filed suit in Federal District Court, accusing over a dozen Ravalli County officials and employees and the Bitterroot Star and publisher Michael Howell personally, for conspiring to fire her from her office as Treasurer illegally. She sought $20 million in damages.
The Ravalli County Commissioners had fired her in 2014 after virtually every taxing district in the county, including Fire Districts, School Districts, Library Districts, Irrigation Districts and the rest, complained to the County Commissioners that they were not receiving their funds. The day Stamey was first suspended, her office was locked and a subsequent search revealed several hundred thousand dollars in undeposited tax payments on her desk and in boxes around the office. She was finally fired and charged with a civil violation for failing to perform her duties and fined $151,000.
In her lawsuit Stamey claimed that several sitting and former County Commissioners and a litany of selected department heads and tax office employees, and the Bitterroot Star and co-publisher Michael Howell personally, conspired to fire her illegally by destroying her character in the press and preventing her from doing her job.
In December 2017, Federal District Court Judge Dana Christensen dismissed the case for failure to file motions in a timely fashion. Stamey was being represented by Hamilton attorney Robert Myers.
The judge noted in his ruling that “these factors are especially important in Stamey’s case owing to Myers’ insistent filing of bizarre motions and briefs which fail to comply with the local rules, are frequently filed after the deadline has passed, and are incoherent.”
Myers was subsequently barred from the practice of law in Montana by the Montana Supreme Court based on actions (and non-actions) in other non-related cases involving District Court Judge Jeffrey Langton.
Without an attorney following Myers’ disbarment, Stamey signed her own appeal to the Ninth Circuit, but failed to file the required opening brief supporting her appeal by the deadline. The Court issued an order on May 22nd dismissing the appeal for failure to prosecute.