Articles Posted in Constitutional Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s conviction for aggravated assault entered after a jury trial. The district court sentence Appellant to life in prison. The Supreme Court held (1) the prosecutor’s failure to comply with the court’s discovery order constituted misconduct; (2) the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion to restrict witness testimony; (3) the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing argument; (4) Appellant was denied due process of law because he was required to wear a leg brace in the presence of the jury; and (5) because of the cumulative effect of these errors, Appellant was denied a fair trial. View "Black v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion requesting that the criminal case against him be dismissed based upon the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against double jeopardy. A jury convicted Defendant of felonious restraint, strangulation of a household member, and domestic battery. Defendant’s first trial resulted in a mistrial at Defendant’s request after the district court concluded that the prosecutor asked Defendant improper questions during cross-examination. Before the second trial commenced, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him based on the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against double jeopardy. The district court denied the motion, explaining that there was no evidence that suggested the State had intentionally goaded Defendant into requesting a mistrial. Defendant was subsequently found guilty of felonious restraint, strangulation of a household member, and domestic battery. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s finding that the prosecutor did not goad Defendant into requesting a mistrial was not clearly erroneous. View "King v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions on one charge of domestic battery and one charge of strangulation of a household member. On appeal, Defendant argued that his convictions and sentences for both crimes violated his constitutional protections against double jeopardy because domestic battery is a lesser included offense of strangulation of a household member. The Supreme Court held that the district court did not commit plain error when it convicted and sentenced Defendant for the crimes of domestic battery and strangulation of a household member because Defendant’s two convictions arose from separate and distinct conduct, and therefore, Defendant failed to establish a double jeopardy violation. View "Drakeford v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree and one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree for Defendant’s sexual abuse of the daughter of his girlfriend. Defendant appealed, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in multiple ways and that the district court committed reversible error. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant’s trial counsel was not ineffective in her representation of Defendant; and (2) there was no reversible error on the part of the district court. View "Woods v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of two counts of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon, one count of felony property destruction, and one count of attempted second degree murder. The court held (1) Defendant received a speedy trial as required by Wyo. R. Crim. P. 43 and the federal and state Constitutions; (2) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during closing arguments; (3) Defendant received effective assistance of trial counsel; (4) the district court properly instructed the jury that it may infer malice from Defendant’s use of a deadly weapon; and (5) the district court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional protection against double jeopardy when it imposed separate sentences for aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon and attempted second degree murder. View "Webb v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of one count of domestic battery and one count of strangulation of a household member for attacking his girlfriend. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court violated his constitutional right of confrontation when it refused testimony about the victim’s prior relationship from the sister of the victim’s former boyfriend. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the district court did not err by excluding the testimony under the rules of evidence and the court’s case law interpreting them. View "Garland v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was sixteen years old when he committed the crimes at issue in this case. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of one count of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated assault and battery, and ten counts of attempted aggravated assault and battery but reversed Defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing. The court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s motion to transfer the proceedings to juvenile court; (2) there were some errors in the jury instructions, but the errors were not prejudicial either individually or cumulatively; (3) the prosecutor’s victim impact statements during closing arguments were improper but not prejudicial; (4) there was sufficient evidence to support the attempted assault and battery charges; (5) Defendant’s aggregate sentence did not deprive the parole board of its statutory authority to consider parole of juveniles after twenty-five years; (6) Defendant’s sentence for murder and aggravated assault of the same victim did not violate double jeopardy; but (7) Defendant’s aggregate sentence violated the Eighth Amendment because it was a de facto life without parole sentence. View "Sam v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree felony murder but vacated Appellant’s sentence for the aggravated burglary conviction, the underlying felony. The court held (1) the district court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury that self-defense could be raised as a defense to a charge of felony murder; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s request to instruct the jury on the definition of the phrase “in the perpetration of” as used in Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-2-101; but (3) the district court’s issuance of convictions for felony murder and aggravated burglary, the underlying felony, violated protections against double jeopardy. View "Schnitker v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of theft, rendered after a jury trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the prosecutor committed misconduct when he mentioned Defendant’s race during rebuttal closing arguments. Specifically, Defendant argued that, in doing so, the prosecutor attempted to appeal to the racial bias of the jury. The Supreme Court held (1) when the prosecutor commented on Defendant’s race, he was doing so in response to defense counsel’s suggestion that race was an issue; and (2) therefore, there was no prosecutorial misconduct committed in this case and no plain error committed by the trial court. View "Cole v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence collected pursuant to a search warrant, concluding that the police officer’s affidavit used to obtain the search warrant established probable cause sufficient to justify the issuance of the search warrant. Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to charges of delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. On appeal, Defendant argued that the affidavit was deficient, that the circuit court improperly issued the warrant, and that the search violated Defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Wyo. Const. art. I, 4. The Supreme Court held that the affidavit established probable cause supporting the issuance of the search warrant. View "Fosen v. State" on Justia Law