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Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Case Name: Roden v. State
Citation: 2007 WY 200
Docket Number: 06-204
Appeal from the
Representing Appellant (Defendant): Robert T Moxley, Robert T. Moxley, PC,
Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Patrick J. Crank, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jessica Schneider, Student Intern. Argument by Ms. Schneider.
Issues: What is the proper measure of damages under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-3-201(b)(iii)? Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to prove that the damages amounted to $1,000.00 or more. Whether the jury was properly instructed on the measure of damages.
Facts/Discussion: Appellant was convicted of felony property destruction in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-3-201(a). The jury found that Appellant had caused damages to the pickup and camper top exceeding the threshold of $1,000.00 and he was convicted of a felony.
Standard of Review: The first issue presented a question of statutory construction to which the court applies a de novo standard of review. For the challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence the Court’s basic consideration is whether a rational trier of fact could find that the essential elements of the crime were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The third issue regarding review of the jury instructions requires the Court to consider them as a whole; the trial court is given wide latitude in instructing the jury; and the accuracy of the instruction is reviewed de novo.
What is the appropriate measure of damages under
Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to prove that the damages amounted to $1,000.00 or more. The State presented evidence that the actual cost of repairing the windows was $1,715. Based on that information, rational jurors could conclude beyond reasonable doubt that the damages exceeded the $1,000 felony level. The defense was allowed to present evidence suggesting the figure was too high. The record included sufficient evidence to support the jury’s decision that Appellant caused more than $1,000 in damages.
Whether the jury was properly instructed on the measure of damages. The Court focused on the jury instructions relating to the measure of damages; Instructions 9 and 13. The Court concluded in South Cheyenne Water & Sewer Dist. that the jury could consider the reasonable cost of repair or restoration. Given that conclusion, it might have been appropriate for the trial court to insert the word “reasonable” in the instructions concerning value. However, it was not reversible error for the court to adhere to the language of the statute and pattern jury instructions and refuse the last-minute request to change the jury instructions.
Holding: The statute unambiguously provides a broad measure of damages, which are questions of fact that should be determined by the jury. The record included sufficient evidence to support the jury’s decision that Appellant caused more than $1,000 in damages. The instructions as given were not an incorrect statement of the law and sufficiently covered the relevant issue. The Court stated there was no basis for reversing the trial court’s ruling.
J. Burke delivered the opinion.
Link: http://tinyurl.com/25wuog .