Friday, January 30, 2009

Summary 2009 WY 12

Summary of Decision issued January 30, 2009

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

Case Name: Spagner v. State

Citation: 2009 WY 12

Docket Number: S-08-0105

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Nicholas G. Kalokathis, Judge.

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

Representing Appellee State: Bruce A. Salzburg, Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Interim Faculty Director and Eric Thompson, Student Director, Prosecution Assistance Program.

Facts/Discussion: Appellant was charged by Information with two counts of first-degree sexual assault and three counts of thirds-degree sexual assault. A jury found him guilty of all five crimes. The appellant contended below, and contends again on appeal, that the Information and its supporting affidavit afforded him insufficient notice of the charges against him, that the verdict form was flawed, and that the district court improperly allowed amendment of the Information to conform with the evidence.

Adequately inform appellant: An Information is required to contain the elements of the offense charged, to fairly inform a defendant of the charges against which he must defend and to enable a defendant to plead an acquittal or conviction in bar of future prosecutions for the same offense. Wyoming follows the rule that the sufficiency of an information is determined from a broad and enlightened standpoint of right reason rather than from a narrow view of technicality and hairsplitting. The key is whether the defendant has been misled to his prejudice. The Court stated that the Affidavit and Information, although not models of clarity, did not fail to give the appellant adequate notice of the five crimes with which he was being charged.
Fatal Variance Between Charges Alleged and Charges Proven: A variance occurs when the evidence presented at trial proves facts different from those alleged in the information or indictment. A variance is not fatal unless the appellant could not have anticipated from the indictment or information what evidence would be admitted at trial, or the conviction would not bar subsequent prosecution. The Court stated that if they were to find a variance existed it would not have been materially prejudicial to the appellant because the charges remained the same, the nature of the charges remained the same, and the character of the evidence remained the same.
Right to Due Process or Notice: The Court reviews a district court’s decision to grant or deny a motion for leave to amend an information for an abuse of discretion, focusing upon the question of whether the district court could reasonably conclude as it did and whether any facet of its ruling was arbitrary or capricious. The Court stated that the issue was decided against appellant through its resolution of the first two issues. Appellant was not misled into believing that he actually was defending the allegation of a crime that took place in 2004. Rather, he was trying to take advantage of a mistake in a recitation of dates by the young victim. No additional or different offense was charged via the amendment and substantial rights of the appellant were not prejudiced.

Conclusion: The Appellant was adequately informed of the charges against which he would be required to defend at trial, there was no fatal variance between the facts alleged and the facts proven at trial, and substantial rights of the appellant were not prejudiced by amendment of the Information.


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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