Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 69

Summary of Decision May 17, 2012

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Docket Number: S-11-0043
Appeal from the District Court of Carbon County, Honorable Wade E. Waldrip, Judge

Representing Appellant (Plaintiff/Defendant): Donna D. Domonkos, Domonkos Law Office, Cheyenne, WY.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff/Defendant): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; anJustin A. Daraie, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Daraie.

Date of Decision: May 17, 2012

Facts: Timothy David Kramer was convicted of attempted first-degree murder and complains on appeal that the jury was improperly instructed, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and that a witness improperly testified by video conference.

Issues: Kramer listed three issues for consideration:

1) The jury was not properly instructed on the elements of first-degree murder as the instructions did not state the jury had to find unanimously that Kramer did not act in the defense of others and the verdict form did not give the jury a venue to make this finding.

2) Kramer received ineffective assistance of counsel when his counsel failed to investigate the case and failed to object to the proposed jury instructions.

3) The trial court erred when it allowed one of the main witnesses in the trial to testify via video conference.

Holdings: Plain error was not committed when instructing the jury. No clear rule of law obligated the district court to blend the elements instructions with the defense-of-others instructions and as a whole, the instructions effectively identified the issues that the jury needed to resolve. Furthermore, Kramer received effective assistance of counsel and counsel’s investigation was sufficient. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion or violate Kramer’s confrontation right when it allowed a witness to testify by video conference. Under the circumstances, presentation of his testimony in that manner was necessary to further an important public policy and the reliability of the testimony was otherwise assured. Affirmed.

Justice Hill delivered the opinion for the court.

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