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UW College of Law Hosts Spence Law Firm Historic Johnson County Trial Oct. 29

October 21, 2014
Kate Fox and Mike Sullivan

Implications from the famed Johnson County War will be the focus of a mock trial Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. at the University of Wyoming.

The free public event will be held in the courtroom in Room 178 of the College of Law Building, located at 19th Street and Willett Drive. In case of an overflow crowd, rooms will be reserved in the building with a live stream of the mock trial.

Spence Law Firm, in conjunction with the UW College of Law, will conduct the mock trial of an alleged actor in the Johnson County War. The trial will depict a case that was never heard before.

In 1892, a range war took place in Johnson, Natrona and Converse counties between small settling ranchers against larger established ranchers in the Powder River area. It culminated in a lengthy shootout between local ranchers, a band of hired killers and a sheriff's posse, eventually requiring the intervention of the United States cavalry on the orders of President Benjamin Harrison. Two settlers were killed in the shootout before the local sheriff and a posse of more than 200 men apprehended the perpetrators.

After the shootout, then Wyoming Gov. Amos W. Barber was implicated for conspiring with the killers, but charges were never filed against him. He will now take the stand in the mock trial, facing allegations that he knew of and failed to prevent the actions of the cattlemen and Texas gunmen, and also for aiding and abetting them.

Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Kate Fox will lead the prosecution for the case, and former Wyoming Gov. Mike Sullivan will lead Barber’s defense. Two third-year UW College of Law students also will represent the parties involved. Clayton Gregersen from Big Horn will be an attorney for the prosecution, and Laurene Rogers of Laramie will be an attorney for the defense.

For more information, contact UW College of Law Professor Stephen Easton at (307) 766-6416 or email

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