Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s motions to continue Defendant’s trial but remanded to the district court with instructions to correct the written sentence, holding that while Defendant’s sentence was not illegal, the written sentence was inconsistent with the district court’s oral sentence. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of one felony count of interference with a peace officer and one misdemeanor count of interference with a peace officer for resisting arrest. The court orally sentenced Defendant to seven to nine years on the felony count and to one year on the misdemeanor count. The court allowed credit for 408 days already served and specified that the credit applied to both sentences. The court did not specify whether the sentences were to be served concurrently or consecutively. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s last two motions to continue his trial; and (2) because the written sentence did not indicate whether the two sentences were to be served concurrently or consecutively and allowed 408 days credit but did not specify that the credit applied to both sentences, remand was necessary to correct the written sentence. View "Palomo v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court order denying the motion of Speedy Bail Bonds seeking to set aside the forfeiture of a $50,000 surety bond it posted on behalf of a defendant in a drug trafficking case, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. In affirming, the Supreme Court looked to whether the district court improperly relied on punitive motives for the forfeiture and examined the district court’s consideration of relevant matters such as any factors presented by the defendant which might mitigate his failure to appear at his arraignment. After examining the evidence, the Court held that the district court’s decision was reasonable based on the evidence. View "Speedy Bail Bonds v. Albany County, Wyoming" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to modify his original sentence after a new individualized sentencing hearing and remanded for a new individualized sentencing hearing. Defendant was seventeen years old when he and his friend robbed and murdered a hitchhiker. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with a consecutive twenty-to-fifty-year sentence for aggravated robbery. Following the decisions in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), Montgomery v. Louisiana, __ U.S. __ (2016), and Bear Cloud v. State, 294 P.3d 36 (Wyo. 2013), and the Wyoming Legislature’s amendment to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-10-301(c), Defendant was granted parole from his life sentence and began serving his consecutive twenty-to-fifty-year sentence. Defendant received a new individualized sentencing hearing, after which the district court declined to modify Defendant’s original sentence. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for an additional sentencing hearing because at the time of the hearing and the district court’s decision, the parties and the district court did not have the advantage of this Court’s rulings concerning the procedure, burdens, and potentially relevant evidence for a Miller determination contained within this opinion. View "Davis v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s entry of an order nunc pro tunc correcting two judgments entered against Defendant in 1998. The Court held (1) the district court had jurisdiction to enter the order nunc pro tunc irrespective of whether the Department of Corrections had standing to challenge the erroneous judgments; (2) there was no merit in Appellant’s claim that the Department of Corrections was required to seek reimbursement pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 7-6-108; and (3) as to Defendant’s remaining issues on appeal, he provided no cogent argument or pertinent authority to support either of his claims, and therefore, this Court will not consider them. View "Heinemann v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s entry of an order nunc pro tunc correcting two judgments entered against Defendant in 1998. The Court held (1) the district court had jurisdiction to enter the order nunc pro tunc irrespective of whether the Department of Corrections had standing to challenge the erroneous judgments; (2) there was no merit in Appellant’s claim that the Department of Corrections was required to seek reimbursement pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 7-6-108; and (3) as to Defendant’s remaining issues on appeal, he provided no cogent argument or pertinent authority to support either of his claims, and therefore, this Court will not consider them. View "Heinemann v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for second-degree murder, holding that, although the district court erred in some respects in instructing the jury, Defendant was not prejudiced by the errors. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court erred when it instructed the jury that Defendant had an absolute duty to retreat before using deadly force, but Defendant was not prejudiced by the instruction; (2) the district court did not violate a clear and unequivocal rule of law in instructing the jury on the mens rea element of second-degree murder; and (3) Defendant was not prejudiced when the district court failed to inform the jury that the State had the burden of proving that Defendant did not act in a sudden heat of passion in order to convict him of second-degree manslaughter. View "Sindelar v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for second-degree murder, holding that, although the district court erred in some respects in instructing the jury, Defendant was not prejudiced by the errors. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court erred when it instructed the jury that Defendant had an absolute duty to retreat before using deadly force, but Defendant was not prejudiced by the instruction; (2) the district court did not violate a clear and unequivocal rule of law in instructing the jury on the mens rea element of second-degree murder; and (3) Defendant was not prejudiced when the district court failed to inform the jury that the State had the burden of proving that Defendant did not act in a sudden heat of passion in order to convict him of second-degree manslaughter. View "Sindelar v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions for driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury, holding that Defendant’s conditional no contest plea to the charge was not proper. Because Defendant did not present a proper cognitional plea, reversal of the district court’s order was required because “the issues are clearly controlled by settled Wyoming law.” Therefore, the Court entered an abbreviated opinion pursuant to Wyo. R. App. P. 9.06 and remanded the case to the district court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. View "Hardman v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions for driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury, holding that Defendant’s conditional no contest plea to the charge was not proper. Because Defendant did not present a proper cognitional plea, reversal of the district court’s order was required because “the issues are clearly controlled by settled Wyoming law.” Therefore, the Court entered an abbreviated opinion pursuant to Wyo. R. App. P. 9.06 and remanded the case to the district court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. View "Hardman v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court remanded this case for a new hearing under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), holding that the district court clearly erred by allowing the State to exercise a peremptory challenge to exclude an African American from the jury. The record supported the validity of only one of the prosecutor’s race-neutral reasons for his peremptory challenge and did not show that the district court would credit this reason alone. Specifically, one of the prosecutor’s two explanations for the peremptory challenge upon which the district court relied failed, and the record did not show that the district court would find that the prosecutor was motivated solely by the valid grounds. Therefore, the case must be remanded for a new Batson hearing in which the district court must reassess the prosecutor’s credibility in light of the discrepancy between the record and his explanation. View "Roberts v. State" on Justia Law