Suspended Carbon County Sheriff Barry Bryner will be arraigned May 15, 9:30 a.m. in 7th District Court on charges of evading an officer and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Seventh Circuit Judge Bruce K. Halliday ruled in a memorandum decision that sufficient evidence was presented at an April preliminary hearing to bind Bryner over to district court for arraignment.Bryner was arrested Feb. 22 and charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant and failure to respond to a police officer's signal to stop after a high-speed chase from Price toward Wellington and then back to Price.
Bryner's car was wrecked near the southern city limits of Price, and Bryner was apprehended nearby. Police reports say Bryner held officers at bay for nearly two hours before he finally surrendered. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Carbon County Attorney Gene Straite has filed a civil suit in district court seeking to remove Bryner, a Democrat, for malfeasance in office. A May 23 hearing at 2 p.m. is scheduled.
Straite said the civil action may be the only way to force Bryner from office if he refuses to resign. Straite said even though the state has filed an action seeking to decertify Bryner as a police officer, it is unclear whether that would force Bryner from office. Utah law requires a person hired as a police officer to obtain certification within a specified period of time but does not specify that certification be maintained.
Straite defended the County Commission's Feb. 23 decision to suspend Bryner and appoint Dep. James Robertson as acting sheriff.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Joseph E. Tesch wrote to the commission in response to a letter from Jerald Cowan, chief Carbon County deputy sheriff. Cowan has expressed dissatisfaction at being passed over for the interim appointment. Cowan was chief deputy under Bryner and continues in the post under Robertson.
Tesch said the letter is not intended as a formal opinion or as direction but as an observation that the sheriff remains in charge of his department until a vacancy exists. If the commission believes a vacancy exists, then Utah code says the position should be filled by appointment of one of three persons nominated by the central committee of the party which held the office.
Straite said county commissioners have broad powers to protect the safety of residents and minimize the possibility of civil liability to the county. He said the situation regarding the sheriff is unprecedented in the state.