Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
Davis v. State
The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to modify his original sentence after a new individualized sentencing hearing and remanded for a new individualized sentencing hearing.Defendant was seventeen years old when he and his friend robbed and murdered a hitchhiker. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment with a consecutive twenty-to-fifty-year sentence for aggravated robbery. Following the decisions in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), Montgomery v. Louisiana, __ U.S. __ (2016), and Bear Cloud v. State, 294 P.3d 36 (Wyo. 2013), and the Wyoming Legislature’s amendment to Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-10-301(c), Defendant was granted parole from his life sentence and began serving his consecutive twenty-to-fifty-year sentence. Defendant received a new individualized sentencing hearing, after which the district court declined to modify Defendant’s original sentence. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for an additional sentencing hearing because at the time of the hearing and the district court’s decision, the parties and the district court did not have the advantage of this Court’s rulings concerning the procedure, burdens, and potentially relevant evidence for a Miller determination contained within this opinion. View "Davis v. State" on Justia Law
Sam v. State
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
Vaughn v. State
Appellant was adjudicated a delinquent juvenile for committing a sexual offense that required him to register as an offender under the Wyoming Sexual Offender Registration Act (WSORA). Appellant later entered a conditional guilty plea to two felony counts for failing to report changes in his address, as required by the WSORA. Appellant appealed his convictions, claiming that the WSORA is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Wyoming Juvenile Justice Act does not conflict irreconcilably with the WSORA’s registry requirements for adjudicated juvenile offenders; (2) the WSORA does not violate the Wyoming Constitution’s equal protection clause; (3) Appellant failed to establish that the WSORA’s lifetime registration requirement violates his due process rights; and (4) the WSORA does not violate the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. View "Vaughn v. State" on Justia Law
In re Interest of SWM
The State filed a petition in juvenile court alleging that SWM, a minor, had committed two delinquent acts. SWM's counsel filed a motion to suspend proceedings for evaluation under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 7-11-303 and Wyo. Stat. Ann. 14-6-219. The juvenile court granted the motion, determining that sections 7-11-303 and 14-6-219 required an examination of SWM for competency to proceed. After the report under section 7-11-303 was filed, the State filed a motion asking the court to strike the portions of SWM's forensic evaluation that were conducted pursuant to section 7-11-303 as irrelevant to the proceedings. The juvenile court granted the motion and subsequently found SWM was competent to proceed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding (1) the due process considerations that underlie section 7-11-303 also apply in determining the competency of a minor under section 14-6-219; and (2) although the juvenile court ordered a competency evaluation and ruled that SWM was competent to proceed, it did not evaluate SWM under the correct standards, and therefore, SWM's due process right not to proceed unless competent was not property protected. Remanded. View "In re Interest of SWM" on Justia Law
In re K.C.
K.C., a juvenile, was adjudged delinquent. As part of her disposition, she was allowed to remain in a home environment and placed on supervised probation. After K.C. violated various terms of her probation, her probation was revoked and her disposition changed to placement at a state girls' school for an indefinite period. K.C. appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in imposing sanctions because placement at the girls' school fell within the statutorily allowable sanctions applicable to K.C. and, thus, the court was not required to provide a written justification for the placement; (2) the juvenile court's consideration of a statement K.C. made that she would not follow the rules of a residential program did not violate K.C.'s right against self-incrimination because the statement was considered only in the dispositional phase of the delinquency proceedings; and (3) there was no violation of Wyo. R. Crim. P. 11 because the rule does not apply to juvenile delinquency proceedings. View "In re K.C." on Justia Law
In the Matter of the Adoption of RMS
The biological mother of the child at issue appealed from the order allowing the father and stepmother's petition to adopt the minor child to proceed without the mother's consent because she did not pay child support for a year before the petition was filed. At issue was whether the district court abused its discretion by allowing the petition for adoption to proceed without the consent of the mother and whether evidence was sufficient to support a finding that the mother had willfully failed to pay child support. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that there was clear and convincing evidence that the mother willfully failed to support her child where she failed to take the necessary steps to become employed and support her child and that she failed to demonstrate that, through whatever means were available to her, she had not forgotten her legal obligation to support her child. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's findings.