Thursday, November 13, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 132

Summary of Decision issued November 13, 2008

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: Strange v. State

Citation: 2008 WY 132

Docket Number: S-08-0026, S-08-0047

Appeal from the District Court of Sweetwater County, the Honorable Jere A. Ryckman, Judge.

Representing Appellant Strange: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Kerin, Appellate Counsel; Kirk A. Morgan, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee State: Bruce A. Salzburg, State Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Graham M. Smith, Assistant Attorney General.

Facts/Discussion: A jury found the appellant guilty of unlawful delivery of methamphetamine. He was sentenced to imprisonment for five to ten years. His motion for a new trial was later denied, and he appealed both the judgment and sentence and denial of the motion. Appellant raised two allegations: prosecutorial misconduct and a violation of Brady v. Maryland. The second issue became moot with the Court’s resolution of the first issue.
The Court noted it has frequently admonished prosecutors to seek convictions by presenting evidence of guilt, rather than by arousing the passions and prejudices of jurors against societal evils. The Court commented that often the difference between an affirmance and a reversal is the difference between an isolated comment and a concerted effort by the prosecutor to create prejudice in the jurors’ minds based upon something other than the evidence. The Court reviewed the entire trial. Included in the opinion are numerous examples from the transcript of the type of community outrage or community protection themes that the Court disapproved of in Gayler. The information presented was irrelevant to any of the issues being tried. The Court concluded the prosecutorial misconduct was so pervasive that it was not confident that the verdict rested in the evidence.

Holding: Plain error occurred when the prosecutor repeatedly committed misconduct by seeking a conviction based upon community protection from the drug problem, rather than a conviction based upon the evidence.

Reversed and remanded.

C.J. Voigt delivered the decision.

Link: .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

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