Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court allowing the State to present testimony about an altercation Defendant had in jail while awaiting trial on charges of aggravated child abuse, holding that the district court abused its discretion in admitting the evidence but that Defendant was not prejudiced by the error. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty aggravated child abuse. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence of the jail incident under Wyo. R. Evid. 404(b). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the admission of the evidence violated Rule 404(b); but (2) there was no reasonably probability that the verdict would have been different if the jail incident had not been admitted into evidence. View "Swett v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress her statements to highway patrol troopers and the marijuana they subsequently found in her car, holding that the record supported the district court’s finding that Defendant’s statements to the troopers were not coerced and the conclusion that the troopers did not violate Defendant’s due process rights. Defendant was the passenger in a car that was stopped for speeding. In response to questioning by the troopers, Defendant admitted to possessing medical marijuana that was located in the back of the car. After a search, the the troopers discovered marijuana. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the troopers’ detention and questioning of Defendant after the traffic stop was not unreasonable under the circumstances; and (2) Defendant gave her statements to the troopers voluntarily and and without coercion. View "Rodriguez v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant’s conviction of felony possession of marijuana, holding that Defendant did not demonstrate plain error when a supervisor from the state crime lab testified in place of the lab analyst who tested and weighed the marijuana. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State’s admission of the lab report containing the lab analyst’s conclusions violated his right to confrontation because the supervisor testified in place of the analyst. The Supreme Court affirmed without addressing the confrontation issues, holding that, even if the admission violated the confrontation clause, Defendant was not prejudiced. View "Lewis v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree felony murder and sentence of life imprisonment, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate plain error in testimony elicited from medical experts concerning a diagnosis that has a distinct legal meaning. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State’s medical experts offered improper testimony as to Defendant’s guilt or credibility. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court did not err in permitting the challenged testimony because the diagnoses contained terms with distinct legal meanings that did not equate to expressing an opinion as to Defendant’s guilt; (2) Defendant did not demonstrate plain error in testimony elicited from medical experts concerning inconsistencies between Defendant’s proposed mechanism of injury and their observations of the victim’s injuries; and (3) Defendant did not demonstrate plain error in the State’s cross-examination of a certified forensic pathologist. View "Nielsen v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of two counts of second degree sexual assault by a person in a position of authority, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-2-303(a)(vi), holding that Defendant’s no-contest pleas waived the issue he raised on appeal. Defendant pleaded no contest to two charges of second degree sexual assault. On appeal, Defendant argued that the facts alleged in this case did not constitute a crime because a clinical psychologist is not in a position of authority as that term is used in the applicable Wyoming criminal statute. The Supreme court affirmed the convictions and judgment of the district court, holding that, by pleading no contest, Defendant waived the right to challenge all the issues he raised on appeal. View "Popkin v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed convictions of Defendants - Dennis Larkins and Emily Larkins - for multiple counts of child abuse and one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the State presented sufficient evidence to support the convictions; (2) the district court did not err when it denied Defendants’ motion for new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel; and (3) while some of the prosecutor’s statements during closing argument amounted to misconduct, the misconduct did not materially prejudice either Defendant. View "Larkins v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for strangulation of a household member and domestic battery, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate plain error on appeal. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not commit plain error in allowing the State to present evidence that may be construed as victim impact testimony in its relevance; (2) the district court did not commit plain error in allowing a witness to testify as to what Defendant argued was her opinion that Defendant was guilty because the testimony did not contain an actual conclusion of Defendant’s guilt; and (3) as to Defendant’s argument that certain testimony improperly vouched for the credibility of the victim, there was no reasonable probability that the jury would have returned a more favorable verdict in the absence of the disputed testimony. View "Dumas v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of strangulation of a household member, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate that the State violated its obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). On appeal, Defendant argued that his due process rights were violated when the State failed to comply with Brady by withholding evidence from him until the last possible moment before trial. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the State did not violate Brady by providing the evidence to Defendant within the deadline established by the district court. View "Curby v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed a district court order revoking Appellant’s probation and imposing underlying sentences for her child endangerment and controlled substance convictions, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion by relying on hearsay and non-hearsay evidence to find that Appellant violated a condition of her probation on two occasions; (2) did not abuse its discretion in finding that Appellant violated a probation condition by failing to submit to a scheduled urinalysis appointment; and (3) did not err in determining that Appellant willfully violated a probation condition requiring her to report for a urinalysis test. View "Brumme v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed a district court order revoking Appellant’s probation and ordering that he serve the remaining portions of a prison sentence that had been suspended, holding that Appellant’s underlying sentence was not illegal. Appellant pleaded guilty to state charges and was later convicted of federal charges arising from the same conduct that resulted in the state charges. After Appellant was sentenced to a “lengthy” prison sentence, Appellant and the State filed a stipulated motion requesting the court to modify the order granting a sentence reduction. The district court granted the motion and modified Appellant’s sentence in accordance with the motion. When Appellant was released from federal prison and began to serve his state probation, the district court determined that Appellant had violated terms of his probation and revoked his probation. On appeal, Appellant argued that the reduced sentence he requested and the district court ordered was illegal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant’s modified reduced state sentence did not consist of impermissible interrupted periods of incarceration, and therefore, Appellant’s sentence was not illegal. View "Nitchman v. State" on Justia Law