Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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A jury found Defendant guilty of one count of aggravated assault and battery after he hit Sam Trujillo with his vehicle. The trial court sentenced Defendant to two to four years in prison. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, thus rejecting Defendant’s contention that his conviction should be reversed due to the ineffective assistance of counsel he received at trial. The court held that trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to request either an accident instruction or a defense of others jury instruction. View "Starr v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged in the district court with criminal contempt for violating a juvenile court order. Defendant entered a conditional no contest plea to the criminal contempt charges. Defendant then timely appealed, raising several issues. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Defendant’s entire plea was invalid, but the Court exercised its discretion to convert Defendant’s appeal to a writ of review in order to clarify some of the questions of law; (2) the district court had concurrent jurisdiction over this criminal contempt action arising from conduct in juvenile court; but (3) Defendant was denied due process because the order to show cause did not contain all the elements of the charged offense, an error that was compounded when Defendant’s attorney was denied access to the juvenile court file which contained the order Defendant was accused of violating. Remanded. View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a minor. The district court sentenced Defendant to imprisonment for six to ten years. Defendant moved for a new trial on the ground that his trial attorney was ineffective. The district court denied the motion after an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence, holding (1) Defendant’s attorney provided constitutionally effective assistance; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to allow rational jurors to reasonably conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant caused the victim to touch him for sexual arousal or gratification. View "Jones v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder and one count of larceny. Defendant was eighteen years old when he committed the crimes. At that time, the age of majority in Wyoming was nineteen. Defendant was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of life imprisonment on the murder counts. Defendant later filed a pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence under Wyo. R. Crim. P. 35, arguing that his life sentences violated the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant’s sentence did not violate state law because the Eighth Amendment sentencing protections announced in Miller v. Alabama extend only to offenders under the age of eighteen. View "Nicodemus v. State" on Justia Law

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Appellant was convicted of first-degree felony murder, aggravated burglary, and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. After the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama and the Supreme Court’s decision in Bear Cloud v. State, the Supreme Court vacated Appellant’s sentences for resentencing on all counts. Upon resentencing, the court sentenced Appellant to an aggregate sentence will require him to serve at least thirty-five years before he becomes parole eligible. Appellant appealed, arguing that his aggregate sentence violates constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant’s aggregate sentence is not a de facto sentence of life without the possibility of parole and does not violate the Eighth Amendment; and (2) Appellant’s aggravated burglary sentence of ten to twenty-five years is not grossly disproportionate or unconstitutional. View "Sen v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to felony possession of methamphetamine. Defendant reserved the right to challenge the denial of his motion to suppress the warrantless pat-down search of his person. On appeal, Defendant argued that the pat-down search amounted to an illegal warrantless search because there were no exigent circumstances to necessitate such a search. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that, based upon the totality of the circumstances, law enforcement was justified in conducting a warrantless pat-down search for officer safety reasons. View "Sweets v. State" on Justia Law

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After Crook County Weed and Pest Control District applied herbicides to control leafy spurge found on property owned by Bush Land Development Company and Victoria Bush (collectively, Bush), many trees in the area of the spraying died. Bush filed this inverse condemnation action in the district court alleging that it was entitled to just compensation for the loss of its trees as a result of the District’s improper application of herbicides. The district court dismissed Bush’s claim, concluding that the action was not proper under the inverse condemnation statute. The Supreme Court affirmed on other grounds, concluding that the inverse condemnation was not properly before the district court because Bush failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before claiming inverse condemnation. View "Bush Land Development Co. v. Crook County Weed & Pest Control District" on Justia Law

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Defendant entered a conditional no contest plea to possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress and finding that Defendant consented to continued detention when law enforcement told him “he was free to leave” but continued to have [its] red and blue emergency overhead lights activated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances in this case, a reasonable person in Defendant’s position would have felt free to decline the law enforcement officer’s request, and therefore, the contact between the officer and Defendant was consensual. View "Tibbetts v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with felony stalking. Defendant’s first jury trial ended in a mistrial. Thereafter, a second jury found Defendant guilty of felony stalking. Defendant was sentenced to a term of incarceration, suspended on the condition that Defendant complete five years of probation. Defendant appealed, arguing that his rights against double jeopardy were violated because the prosecutor forced him into moving for a mistrial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no evidence in the record indicating prosecutorial intent to provoke the defense into moving for a mistrial; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s rights against double jeopardy were not violated in this case. View "Montoya v. State" on Justia Law

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In anticipation of receiving the recommendations of a staffing and compensation study conducted by the City of Cheyenne’s contractor, the City created the Employee Investment Study Implementation Team (EIS Team). The EIS Team was created to consider alternative means of implementing those recommendation. Before the EIS Team met, the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, a newspaper, filed a petition for a declaratory judgment that the EIS Team must conduct its meetings in public, as required by the Wyoming Public Meetings Act. The district court granted summary judgment for the City, concluding that the EIS Team was not an “agency” as defined by the Act, and therefore, the EIS Team was not subject to the Act’s open meetings requirements. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the EIS Team was not subject to the Act because, although it was a committee, it was not created pursuant to Wyoming constitution, statute, or ordinance. View "Cheyenne Newspapers, Inc. v. City of Cheyenne" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights