Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summary 2011 WY 122

Summary of Decision August 25, 2011

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

Case Name: Myra Jean Ford v. The State of Wyoming

Citation:  2011 WY 122

Docket Number: S-11-0021

Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County, The Honorable John R. Perry, Judge.

Representing Appellant:  Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Appellate Counsel; and David E. Westling, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.  Argument by Mr. Westling.

Representing Appellee:  Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and Meri V. Geringer, Senior Assistant Attorney General.  Argument by Ms. Geringer.

Date of Decision: August 25, 2011

Facts: Appellant worked as a substance abuse therapist at Campbell County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) and was convicted of seven counts of forgery.  In this appeal, Appellant contends that the district court abused its discretion when it denied her motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State’s presentation of evidence.  Appellant maintains that the evidence the State produced was not sufficient to prove any of the fundamental elements of the crime of forgery. 

Issues: Whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying Appellant’s motion for acquittal after the prosecution failed to produce evidence sufficient to prove the elements of forgery required by W.S. § 6-3-602(a)(ii)(b).  The State rephrases the issue somewhat, but in essence mirrors Appellant’s articulation of it.

Holdings:  The Court held that the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellant acted with the intent to defraud.  The Court reversed the district court’s judgment and sentence and remanded the matter to the district court with directions that the information be dismissed with prejudice.

Justice Hill delivered the opinion for the court.

Justice Voigt, specially concurring.

To prove forgery under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-3-602(a) (LexisNexis 2011), the State must prove that the defendant acted “with intent to defraud.”  That requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended “[t]o cause injury or loss to (a person) by deceit.”  Black’s Law Dictionary 488 (9th ed. 2009).  I agree with the majority that the State failed to meet that burden, and reversal is therefore required.  My difference with the majority is that I believe that is the point where the opinion should stop; we should not attempt to declare whether or not the act of signing one’s own name under these circumstances may be an act of forgery.  That question should be left for another day, when it needs to be answered.  Here, the majority’s finding of abuse of discretion and its determination to reverse is based solely upon the State’s failure to prove intent to defraud.

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