by
In this custody dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court imposing a visitation schedule that required extensive travel between Mother’s residence in Wyoming and Father’s residence in Arizona and requiring Father to pay child support below the presumptive statutory amount, holding that the district court abused its discretion in failing adequately to consider the best interests of the child in setting forth the visitation schedule and abused its discretion in fixing Father’s child support obligation. The district court awarded primary physical custody of the child to Mother and established a visitation schedule requiring the child to travel between Wyoming and Arizona until the child reaches school-age, at which time the parties must agree on a new visitation schedule or seek modification. The court also deviated downward from statutory child support guidelines without stating the presumptive child support amount. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court (1) abused its discretion in failing adequately to consider the best interests of the child when it imposed a graduated visitation plan requiring extensive travel that did not specify how visitation would work when the child started kindergarten; and (2) must obtain and consider additional evidence to support any deviation in child support in order to comply with Wyo. Stat. Ann. 20-2-307(b). View "Martin v. Hart" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
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

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
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

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the juvenile court’s order changing the permanency plan for the Child from family reunification to adoption, holding that Father’s challenges on appeal were unavailing. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not violate Father’s right to due process when it held the permanency hearing without securing his attendance or testimony, took judicial notice of the juvenile case file, and allowed the State to present information about the case by offer of proof rather than sworn witness testimony; and (2) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that the Department of Family Services made sufficient efforts to reunify the Child with Father and that it was in the Child’s best interest to change the permanency plan from reunification to adoption. View "GS v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

by
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

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
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

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
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

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
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

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint alleging negligence and violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983 after Linda Gelok was injured after being left unattended for twenty-five hours at the Wyoming State Hospital (WSH), holding that the complaint alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S. C. 1983 against Paul Mullenax, WSH Administrator, in his individual capacity. On behalf of Linda Gelok, an involuntarily committed incompetent person, Plaintiff sued the WSH, the Wyoming Department of Health, and Mullenax, WSH Administrator, in his official and individual capacities, alleging negligence and violation of her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed the negligence action as time-barred. As to the constitutional claims, the district court found that the WSH, the Department, and Mullenax in his official capacity were entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and that Mullenax was entitled to qualified immunity in his individual capacity. The Supreme Court held (1) Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-3-107 barred Plaintiff’s negligent health care claim; (2) the district court properly dismissed Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims against most defendants; but (3) Plaintiff’s complaint alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Mullenax in his individual capacity. View "Wyoming Guardianship Corp. v. Wyoming State Hospital" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of second degree sexual assault, holding that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of prior bad acts absent notice from the State of its intent to offer such evidence and without conducting a hearing pursuant to Gleason v. State, 57 P.3d 332 (Wyo. 2002), but the error did not prejudice Defendant. The State in this case failed to disclose its intent to use Wyo. R. Evid. 404(b) evidence and failed to provide the purpose for admission of such evidence prior to trial, and the State’s omissions prevented the district court from holding the required Gleason hearing prior to admission of the evidence. The Supreme Court held (1) the evidence falling within the purview of Rule 404(b) was erroneously admitted, without the required Gleason analysis; but (2) there was no reasonable possibility the verdict would have been different without the evidence, and therefore, the error was not prejudicial. View "Broberg v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law