Monday, July 6, 2020


Moab, UT

94.2 F

    Davidson continues legal battles

    Featured Stories

    At 99, Moab man is knighted by France

    “The French people will never forget his courage and devotion to the great cause of freedom,”

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 4: ‘A year in the land of eternal spring’

    Though I planned to return someday, whether as a Peace Corps volunteer or not, this experience proved that even the best-laid plans go awry.

    Leaving Guatemala, Part 3: Sudden departure came with painful goodbyes

    Men donned wooden masks and numerous layers of sweatshirts and ponchos then proceeded to hit each other with whips as they danced around the town square.

    Leaving Guatemala Part 2: There wasn’t enough time to say goodbye

    To say I woke up on the Monday morning of the evacuation...

    Ignoring own standards and experts, Utah commission pushes reopening

    The COVID-19 model from the CDC predicts an increase in deaths from the coronavirus from Utah in the coming weeks, and key indicators predict more hospitalizations are to come.
    Doug McMurdo
    Doug McMurdo
    Editor Doug McMurdo reports on news out of the Moab City Center, tourism, courts, change of government and more.

    State Supreme, Appeals courts asked to review former city manager’s recent courtroom defeats

    By Doug McMurdo

    The Times-Independent

    Attorneys for former Moab City Manager Rebecca Davidson have filed court documents asking the Utah Supreme Court to review a recent decision from the Utah Court of Appeals.

    The odds are not in her favor. According to several legal sources, higher courts decline to accept 90 percent of such requests, known as a writ of certiorari.

    Davidson, Tara Smelt and Tayo, Inc., filed defamation lawsuits against Chris Baird, Connie McMillan, online reporter Jim Stiles and the Canyon Country Zephyr. The women allege the Seventh District Court and then the Utah Court of Appeals erred when the lower courts ruled in favor of the defendants.

    Davidson and Smelt accused the defendants of making defamatory comments following a controversial transaction at the city shortly after Davidson was hired in the spring of 2015, after she left the same position in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

    Within a month of her hiring, Davidson directed the assistant manager at the time to hire a man named Niyo Pearson, whom Davidson knew from her time in Wyoming.

    Pearson was a cyber security consultant who had reportedly found serious cyber threats in the City of Kemmerer – and subsequently found threats in the City of Moab, as well, when he was hired in May 2015.

    Smelt also knew Davidson and Pearson in Kemmerer, and she was living with Davidson in Moab. Smelt and Pearson formed Tayo, Inc., in June 2015.

    The writ in its statement of facts does not mention Pearson and Smelt had ties to Davidson in Wyoming.

    The city hired Pearson to fortify its online network and did not bid out the work. Davidson disclosed her relationship with Pearson in June 2015, after Smelt and Pearson formed Tayo, Inc. One year later, following an independent auditor’s review of the contract with Pearson and Tayo, it was determined no laws or ethics were violated, according to the writ.

    Davidson alleged McMillan, a Kemmerer resident, defamed her on social media, saying more than two dozen employees left their employment due to Davidson, as well as other comments she reportedly made over a period of several months.

    She accused Baird of making false statements in letters to local newspapers and on social media alleging she violated the law and professional ethics, and she alleged Stiles and the Canyon Country Zephyr defamed her in a story that was ostensibly a deep dive into Davidson’s career as a public administrator.

    Davidson was later terminated for unrelated reasons – she also filed a civil rights case against the city and former Mayor Dave Sakrison afterwards (see sidebar on following page) – and filed her lawsuit against Baird, McMillan, Stiles and the Zephyr in the fall of 2016. Five months later, on Valentine’s Day 2017, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

    The judge determined the allegedly defamatory statements fell into one of three categories: They were true, they were matters of opinion, or they were “fair public comment.” On appeal, the higher court affirmed the district court’s decision, and it added that, “even if some of the statements at issue were false, plaintiffs were required but failed to show that defendants acted with ‘actual malice’ …” Davidson, the higher court agreed, was a public figure, and so were her co-plaintiffs.

    The Utah Supreme Court has yet to take up the matter.

    Share this!

    - Advertisement -

    Latest News

    GOP’s Cox, Reyes move on to General Election

    If the figures hold, Cox will face off against University of Utah law professor Christopher Peterson, a Democrat, and Libertarian Daniel Cottam, a surgeon, in November’s general election.

    Man pleads guilty to double manslaughter

    He faces up to 15 years apiece for the deaths of Vilsar Camey, 45, and Camey’s 10-year-old son, Israel on Feb. 9.

    Eklecticafe was cramped but quaint. Then the virus hit

    “It’s so sad to say that, even though there’s a relief for me, but the COVID thing… I just couldn’t sustainably reopen."

    500K facemasks headed to Utah students, teachers

    The state procured the masks from H.M. Cole and Totopazi and will be distributed to school districts in the “greatest need."

    After three years and a tripled budget, Seekhaven has new director

    My main goal is to stabilize our current programming and fortify our working relationships with the first responders in our community.