Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of aggravated assault and battery, holding that Defendant was not prejudiced by the admission of Wyo. R. Evid. 404(b) evidence without the required analysis under Gleason v. State, 57 P.3d 332 (Wyo. 2002). On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion by admitting evidence that Defendant had sexual intercourse with the complaining witness twice without her consent on the evening of the altercation. Specifically, Defendant argued that that the evidence was uncharged misconduct evidence subject to Rule 404(b) and that the trial court failed to conduct the required Gleason analysis before admitting the evidence. The Supreme Court held that Defendant was not prejudiced by admission of the sexual intercourse evidence and that there was no reasonable possibility the verdict would have been more favorable to Defendant had the sexual intercourse evidence been excluded. View "Vinson v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of three counts of felony theft stemming from her use of two credit cards to purchase personal items and services, holding that sufficient evidence supported the convictions. Defendant, the chief operating officer and executive director of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, used two credit cards issued in the Chamber's name and approved to carry out the Chamber's business for personal purchases. A jury convicted Defendant of felony theft. On appeal, Defendant argued that her conduct was lawful because the Chamber authorized each personal purchase by voluntarily paying each credit card bill, and therefore, the evidence did not satisfy the statutory definition of "property." The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the value of available credit on a credit card is intangible property subject to theft under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-3-402(a); and (2) sufficient evidence showed that Defendant exercised unauthorized control over the Chamber's property. View "Fox v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of first degree sexual abuse of a minor, holding that the district court did not err in allowing the State to withdraw from its plea agreement with Defendant and that Defendant was not denied the right to testify in his own defense. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant agreed to plead no contest to third degree sexual abuse of a minor. The State subsequently filed a motion to withdraw from the plea agreement. After a hearing, the district court granted the motion. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first degree sexual abuse of a minor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because the State withdraw from its plea agreement before Defendant acted on his promise to change his plea and Defendant did not otherwise assert that he detrimentally relied on the agreement before the State withdraw from it, the agreement wasn't to an enforceable contract, and the district court did not err in granting the State's motion to withdraw from it; and (2) Defendant did not assert a cognizable claim that his right to testify was denied. View "Nelson v. State" on Justia Law

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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 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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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions on three counts of second-degree attempted murder, thirteen counts of aggravated assault and battery, and one count of interference with a peace officer, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court’s finding of no discriminatory purpose in the State’s exercise of peremptory challenges was not clearly erroneous; (2) Defendant's right to a fair trial was not violated when the district court refused to individually query jurors about their exposure to pretrial publicity; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s pretrial motion for a continuance; (4) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal; (5) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel; and (6) because there was no error, cumulative error did not deprive Defendant of a fair trial. View "Pickering v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's convictions of one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance and four counts of delivery of a controlled substance based on transactions with a confidential informant, holding the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on Defendant's entrapment theory of defense. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the evidence created a fact issue on the questions of inducement and predisposition. The Supreme Court held (1) the evidence created a fact issue for the jury on the question of government inducement; (2) the evidence created a factual dispute concerning Defendant's predisposition to commit the crimes at issue; and (3) therefore, the defense of entrapment was in play and was a question on which the jury should have been instructed. View "Black v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law