Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for driving under the influence (DWUI) - fourth offense in ten years, holding that the charging document (Information) plainly charged Defendant with a fourth offense felony DWUI, thereby invoking the district court’s subject matter jurisdiction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the Information failed to state a felony offense because it did not allege three prior offenses resulting in convictions within the ten-year loopback period required by statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) any mistake in alleging if or when Defendant’s prior offenses occurred did not constitute a jurisdictional defect; and (2) by entering an unconditional guilty plea, Defendant waived his challenge to the sufficiency of the Information. View "Protz v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant's convictions, holding that the record did not show a factual basis for Appellant's guilty plea as to counts two through eleven, and therefore, Appellant was prejudiced by her trial counsel’s deficient performance in advising her to plead guilty to ten felony counts under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 42-4-111(a) without a factual basis to satisfy the felony threshold. Appellant pled guilty to one felony count of Medicaid fraud related to improper record-keeping, ten felony counts of Medicaid fraud for making false or misleading statements in Medicaid claims when the value of the medical assistance is $500 or more, and two counts of felony forgery. Appellant filed a Wyo. R. App. P. 21(a) motion to withdraw her pleas due to ineffective assistance, arguing that the State unlawfully charged her with counts two through eleven and that her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance because he did not challenge those charges. Instead, trial counsel advised Appellant to accept a plea agreement under which Appellant pled guilty to all charges. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was no factual basis for Appellant’s guilty plea as to the ten felony counts, and trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by advising Appellant to accept the plea agreement. View "Mellott v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of two counts of second-degree sexual assault, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. Defendant, an OB/GYN, was convicted of sexually assaulting two of his patients. On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions, that the district court erred when it denied his proposed theory of defense instruction, and that the court erred when it denied his motion for arrest of judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the State presented sufficient evidence that Defendant was in a position of authority; (2) the district court did not err when it rejected Defendant’s proposed theory of defense instruction; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s post-trial Wyo. R. Crim. P. 34 motion for arrest of judgment. View "Harnetty v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to uphold the suspension of Appellant’s driver’s license, holding that collateral estoppel did not bar the OAH from considering Appellants’ blood alcohol content (BAC) test results in the license suspension proceeding. In the companion criminal case, the municipal court dismissed Appellant’s criminal charges without prejudice without referring to the prosecution’s argument that a gap in the chain of custody of Appellant’s blood samples rendered the BAC test results inadmissible. On appeal from the OAH proceedings, Appellant argued that the OAH was collaterally estopped from considering the BAC test results in the license suspension proceeding. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that all four collateral estoppel requirements were not met under the circumstances. View "Casiano v. State ex rel. Wyoming Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order revoking Defendant’s probation and imposing the original suspended sentence, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by revoking Defendant’s probation. During the adjudicatory stage of proceedings the district court concluded that Defendant had failed to prove that he had complied the conditions of his probation and found that Defendant’s alleged violations were willful. The district court then revoked Defendant’s probation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the scope of Defendant’s appellate waiver did not include his right to appeal from the order revoking his probation; and (2) the district court did not err in its conclusions, and the court’s findings were supported by the evidence. View "Bazzle v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s Wyo. R. Crim. P. 35(b) motion for sentence reduction, holding that there was no abuse of discretion. Defendant received a sentence of fourteen to eighteen years in prison in connection with his conviction of one count of aggravated vehicular homicide. After the district court denied Defendant’s motion for sentence reduction Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court had a rational basis for denying Defendant’s motion for sentence reduction; and (2) Defendant’s argument that his sentence was illegal because it violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment was procedurally barred. View "Barrowes v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of three controlled substance charges, holding that the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered during a search of Defendant’s vehicle. On appeal, Defendant argued that a law enforcement officer violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment when he detained Defendant for a dog sniff and searched Defendant’s pickup truck without a warrant. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the officer’s initial stop of Defendant was justified because he was speeding; (2) the officer had reasonable, articulable suspicion that Defendant was engaged in drug crimes, justifying his further detention; and (3) the automobile exception to the warrant requirement applied to Defendant’s pickup. View "Pier v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one count of first degree sexual assault of minor, holding that the district court erred in providing an ex parte response to a juror’s note, but the error was harmless, and that Defendant received effective assistance of counsel. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court erred when it responded to a juror note expressing confusion over DNA testimony without informing either party of the juror note and the court’s response to it, but the error was harmless; and (2) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel based on an alleged conflict or interest or on counsel’s purported failure to adequately pursue a theory of intentional secondary DNA transfer. View "Wall v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of felony possession of a controlled substance, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a law enforcement officer’s search of Defendant’s vehicle. Defendant entered a conditional no contest plea to possession of a controlled substance. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in failing to suppress evidence obtained during what he characterized as an unreasonable search. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant waived his right to argue on appeal that the officer conducted an unlawful search when he leaned through the passenger window of the car and smelled marijuana; and (2) under the totality of the circumstances, the officers’ actions were objectively reasonable, and the search did not violate Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. View "Ray v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment finding Defendant’s guilty of sexual abuse of a minor in the first and second degree, holding that there was sufficient evidence to sustain the conditions and that the district court did not err when it denied the admission of character evidence of the alleged victim. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal on both counts; and (2) the district court did not err when it precluded Defendant from presenting character evidence pertaining to the alleged victim on the grounds that it was inadmissible. View "Martinez v. State" on Justia Law