State v. Weisz & Sons, Inc

In State v. Weisz & Sons, Inc., 713 P.2d 176 (Wyo. 1986), the Department of Administration and Fiscal Control (DAFC) rejected the low bidder on a slurry injection contract for not being responsive and awarded the contract to the second low bidder. The trial court reversed, enjoined DAFC from awarding the contract to anyone but the low bidder, and held that DAFC abused its discretion when it decided the low bidder's failure to include certain documents was a material variance. On appeal to the Court, the issue in Weisz was whether a trial court has the authority to substitute its discretion for that of a state agency and award a contract through an injunction. The court held that under the facts presented, the trial court should have deferred to the judgment and discretion of DAFC and had no authority to award the contract. The court quoted art. II, 2 of the Wyoming Constitution which provides: "The powers of the government of this state are divided into three distinct departments: The legislative, executive and judicial, and no person or collection of persons charged with the exercise of powers properly belonging to one of these departments shall exercise any powers properly belonging to either of the others, except as in this constitution expressly directed or permitted." Weisz, 713 P.2d at 184. The court said: "The judicial department has jurisdiction over acts that are illegally done, but to extend its power over acts done in good faith, pursuant to the exercise of an honest judgment, and within the jurisdiction of the person or persons performing them, would be, in the absence of legislative authorization, judicial usurpation inconsistent with the fundamental constitutional principle of division of power." Id. The court went on to say that courts are warranted in setting aside action of an administrative agency only where its action is arbitrary or fraudulent or where there is an illegal exercise of discretion. Id. The court used the words dishonesty, bad faith, illegality, and oppressiveness to describe agency action warranting judicial intervention. The term "abuse of discretion" in its application to agency conduct, the court said, carries with it a connotation of illegal and other conduct smacking of censurable behavior, justifying judicial intervention. Id. 713 P.2d at 185.