Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's order of restitution awarding restitution to three victims, including Jerry Goodman, a victim whose insurance paid for the property destroyed by Defendant, holding that the district court properly ordered restitution to Goodman. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft. The district court sentenced Defendant to a term of imprisonment and ordered Defendant to pay restitution to three victims, including $16,998 to Goodman, whose truck and trailer Defendant stole. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court could not order restitution to Goodman because Goodman's insurance company paid him for the vehicle's full value and took title to the truck. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the record contained no evidence of a subrogation right, or the lack thereof, the district court properly required Defendant to pay restitution to Goodman. View "Hudson v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of strangulation of a household member and driving while under the influence, holding that the district court did not err in admitting a nurse's testimony under the hearsay exception for medical diagnosis and treatment and that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in admitting the testimony of a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE nurse) under Wyo. R. Evid. 803(4) and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for strangulation of a household member. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the SANE nurse's statement under Rule 803(4); and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdict on strangulation of a household member. View "Morones v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court remanded this matter to the district court for correction of its written sentencing order, holding that the district court's written sentence differed from its oral pronouncement, requiring a remand. Defendant pled no contest to aggravated battery. The district court imposed a three to five year sentence. The court then stated that it would suspend incarceration and place Defendant on supervised probation for a period of three years. Thereafter, the district court signed a written judgment and sentence stating that "probation shall continue for a period of 5 years...." The Supreme Court affirmed in part and remanded in part, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion to withdraw his no contest plea; and (2) the sentence was improper to the extent it differed from the district court's oral pronouncement. View "Wanberg v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, third-degree sexual abuse of a minor, and incest, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the victim competent to testify as a witness and that Defendant was not denied his constitutional right to confront a witness against him. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion in finding the victim competent to testify and that, due to her incompetency, as well as her behavior at trial, he was denied his right to confront her as a witness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding the victim competent to testify; (2) Defendant was not denied his right to effectively cross-examine the victim; and (3) any error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Tamblyn v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for murder in the first degree and attempted murder in the first degree, holding that Defendant was not denied his right to a speedy trial or his right to a fair trial due to ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant was not denied his statutory or constitutional right to a speedy trial; (2) Defendant failed to establish that he was denied his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel; and (3) Defendant failed to establish that he was denied his constitutional right to due process of law or a fair trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. View "Fairbourn v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions on three counts of second-degree attempted murder, thirteen counts of aggravated assault and battery, and one count of interference with a peace officer, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court’s finding of no discriminatory purpose in the State’s exercise of peremptory challenges was not clearly erroneous; (2) Defendant's right to a fair trial was not violated when the district court refused to individually query jurors about their exposure to pretrial publicity; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s pretrial motion for a continuance; (4) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal; (5) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel; and (6) because there was no error, cumulative error did not deprive Defendant of a fair trial. View "Pickering v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's convictions of one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and four counts of delivery of a controlled substance based on transactions with a confidential informant, holding the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on Defendant's entrapment theory of defense. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the evidence created a fact issue on the questions of inducement and predisposition. The Supreme Court held (1) the evidence created a fact issue for the jury on the question of government inducement; (2) the evidence created a factual dispute concerning Defendant's predisposition to commit the crimes at issue; and (3) therefore, the defense of entrapment was in play and was a question on which the jury should have been instructed. View "Black v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant's conviction of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated assault, holding that Defendant was not prejudiced by any alleged error in the jury instruction for rape and that the State had no duty under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), to conduct a forensic examination of the complainant's cell phone before trial. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that (1) the district court had not erroneously instructed the jury on the elements of rape, and (2) the State did not commit a Brady violation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant was not prejudiced by his counsel's failure to object to the jury instruction on the elements of rape, and, going forward, this Court endorses the use of Model Utah Jury Instruction 1605 for rape; and (2) the State did not violate Brady when it did not complete a forensic examination of the complainant's cell phone. View "State v. Newton" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress. Defendant parked his car in a parking lot and was on his way into a bar when Officer Andy Lucus approached him and asked if they could talk. Defendant agreed. While they were talking, two other officers arrived at the scene. Officer Lucus asked if Defendant had proof of insurance. When Defendant could not locate his proof of insurance Officer Lucus wrote a "no insurance" citation. In the meantime, the other officers retrieved a K-9 named Lord to perform a free-air sniff of Defendant's vehicle. After Lord alerted to the smell of drugs Officer Lucus searched the vehicle and found methaphetamine. On appeal, Defendant conceded that his encounter with Officer Lucus began as consensual but asserted that the encounter changed to an unlawful investigatory detention when Officer Lucus requested proof of insurance. The Supreme Court affirmed without deciding the issue, holding that Lord's free-air sniff was lawful whether Defendant was free to leave or not. View "Kern v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for child abuse and lawful entry into an occupied structure, holding that Defendant waived his claim that the charge of unlawful entry did not state a criminal offense by pleading no contest to the charge. Defendant pleaded no contest to child abuse and unlawful entry after he entered the home where his estranged wife and teenage son were residing and hit the son with a wooden shovel handle. On appeal, Defendant argued that his unlawful entry must be overturned because it did not state a criminal offense. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant waived his challenge to the unlawful entry count when he pleaded no contest to the charge. View "Dahl v. State" on Justia Law