Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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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

Posted in: Criminal Law
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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

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order denying Cheryl Tarter's motions to amend or set aside the default divorce decree entered against her, holding that the default decree was void for failure of service by publication. A process server unsuccessfully attempted to serve Cheryl with the divorce complaint filed by Charles Tarter. Charles subsequently filed an affidavit in support of service by publication and published legal notice in the local newspaper. Cheryl did not answer, and the district court clerk entered default. The court subsequently entered the default decree dividing the couple's property and debt. Later, Cheryl filed a motion to amend or set aside the default decree, claiming that good cause existed to set the default decree aside. Cheryl then filed an amended motion asserting the default decree was void because Charles had failed to comply with the service by publication requirements in Wyo. R. Civ. P. 4. The district court denied the motions. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Charles failed to comply with Rule 4 in several respects, and these failings, individually and collectively, deprived the court of personal jurisdiction over Cheryl, rendering the default decree void. View "Tarter v. Tarter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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In this custody dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court declining jurisdiction over the issue of child custody and ceding jurisdiction to a California court, the state where Mother and the child resided, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. After the parties divorced, Father filed a petition to modify custody of the parties' child, alleging that Mother's act of alienating him from the child was a material and substantial change in circumstances. The district court entered an order ceding jurisdiction over the petition to the applicable California court. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no abuse of discretion in the district court's child support calculation; (2) the district court acted within its authority in ordering Father to pay Mother's attorney fees for Father's contempt; (3) the district court did not err in granting Mother's motion to transfer jurisdiction over Father's petition to modify custody to a court in California; and (4) Mother was entitled to attorney fees and costs on appeal pursuant to Wyo. R. App. P. 10.05(b). View "Fleet v. Guyette" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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In this personal injury action brought pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of one of Plaintiff's co-employee supervisors, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed. Plaintiff was injured when his hand and arm became entangled in a pipe-straightening machine at his place of employment. Plaintiff sued his co-employee supervisors - Elvin Brown, Bill Wartenbee, and Bryce Mitchell - claiming they were not entitled to immunity from liability under the Act because they intentionally acted to cause physical harm or injury to Plaintiff. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Brown and Wartenbee were entitled to judgment as a matter of law and were immune from liability for Plaintiff's injury; and (2) Plaintiff established genuine issues of material fact against Mitchell precluding summary judgment. The Court remanded the claim against Mitchell for trial. View "Ramirez v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Husband's motion seeking an order compelling Wife to sign a joint return for their 2013 federal income tax and pay half of the tax, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. In 2014, Wife and Husband divorced, In 2019, Husband filed his motion for an order requiring Wife to sign the joint return and half the tax. The district court ordered Wife to sign the 2013 joint tax return and ruled that the parties were each responsible for half of the tax and that Husband was responsible for the penalties and interest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) it was appropriate for the district court to order Wife to sign the joint return; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by ordering Wife to pay half of the tax. View "Begley v. Begley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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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

Posted in: Criminal Law
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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

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this contract dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing H&P Advisory Limited's complaint against Randgold Resources, Limited and Barrick Gold Corporation for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the undisputed facts and all reasonable inferences in H&P's favor did not support personal jurisdiction over Defendants in Wyoming. Randgold, a Jersey (Channel Islands) corporation, and Barrick, a Canada corporation, were two of the world's largest gold mining companies. H&P, a United Kingdom private limited company, served as a neutral broker between the two companies in a merger deal. Those involved in the merger met in Jackson, Wyoming to participate in a series of negotiations. Randgold and Barrick subsequently announced the merger but did not list H&P as an advisor and offered to pay H&P a "small fee" for its role in the merger. H&P sued Randgold and Barrick in the Ninth Judicial District in and for Teton County, Wyoming alleging breach of contract. The district court dismissed the complaint on personal jurisdiction grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly concluded that it lacked specific personal jurisdiction over Defendants. View "H&P Advisory Ltd. v. Randgold Resources Ltd." on Justia Law

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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