Monday, February 06, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 13

Summary of Decision February 6, 2012

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

Case Name:  Brock v. State of Wyoming

Citation:  2012 WY 13

Docket Number: S-11-0108

Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County, The Honorable David B. Park, Judge

Representing Appellant (Defendant):  Tamara K. Schroeder, Chapman Valdez, Casper, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Gregory A. Phillips, Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Justin A. Daraie, Assistant Attorney General.  Argument by Mr. Daraie.

Date of Decision: February 6, 2012

Facts:  Appellant was employed as an assistant manager at a restaurant. He failed to deposit two days earning at the bank.  Appellant was charged with one count of larceny, which was later amended to larceny by bailee.  Appellant pled not guilty and his case proceeded to trial.

At that hearing, defense counsel objected in advance to the introduction of evidence concerning Appellant’s rumored gambling problems.  The subject of gambling was not mentioned during trial.

Defense counsel also opposed the introduction of recently discovered incriminating statements, and requested that the court grant a continuance or prevent the State from introducing those statements.  In response, the court ordered the State to make the witness available that morning for an interview.  The witness was interviewed by the defense that day, and was called as the State’s final witness on the second day of trial.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict. The court sentenced Appellant to a term of seven to ten years in prison.  Appellant timely filed this appeal.

Issues: 1) Whether it was ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to call the investigating police officers to testify with regard to their investigation; 2) Whether it was ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to investigate or interview or call key witnesses with possibly exculpatory information; and 3) Whether the trial court abused its discretion in sustaining the prosecution’s objection to cross-examination of a witness regarding statements made to the police.

Holdings:  As to the first issue, the Court found that Appellant discounted the possibility that police testimony would have been more damaging than helpful to his case.  The Court also found that trial counsel’s effort to preclude evidence of Appellant’s rumored gambling problems did not constitute deficient performance when properly viewed as a strategic decision securely within the reasonable judgment of counsel. 

As to the second issue, the Court did not find that defense counsel’s investigation of witnesses to be presumptively prejudicial.  Appellant made no attempt to identify the favorable evidence that additional investigation by defense counsel would have revealed.  Accordingly, the Court rejected his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Lastly, the court found that Appellant failed to establish that he was prevented from asking any specific question during cross-examination of a witness, or that the district court abused its discretion in sustaining the prosecutor’s objection to a document never specifically identified in the record.


J. Burke delivered the opinion for the court.

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