Summary of Decision May 30, 2012
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Case Name: In the Matter of U.S. Currency totaling $7,209.00: Libretti v. State of Wyo.
Citation: 2012 WY 75
Docket Number: S-11-0243
Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County, The Honorable Catherine E. Wilking, Judge
Representing Appellants (Claimants): Joseph Libretti and Frank A. Hohlios, pro se
Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General
Date of Decision: May 30, 2012
Facts: This is an appeal from a forfeiture order entered by the district court against a total of $116,584.43 and certain items of personal property. The cash and personal property were seized from several individuals because of their alleged use in violation of the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act. Appellants claimed $7,209.00 of the cash seized. Both timely responded to the Forfeiture Complaint with the filing of motions to dismiss or in the alternative for a more definite statement. On August 10, 2011, the district court held the evidentiary hearing on the State’s Forfeiture Complaint. Appellant Libretti appeared by telephone and objected when the court called the hearing as an evidentiary hearing. Appellant Hohlios attended the hearing, but the court was not aware of his presence. On August 26, 2011, the district court issued its Forfeiture Order, finding that the funds seized from Appellants were proceeds from violations of the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act.
Issues: I) Whether the District Court erred in not ruling on the claimants’ Motion to Dismiss/Motions for more Definite Statement; II) Whether the District Court erred in not allowing claimants to file an Answer, conduct discovery, and file Motions for Summary Judgment; III) Whether the District Court erred in not ruling on, and not granting, Claimants’ Motions for more Definite Statement; IV) Whether claimants were wrongly denied a Jury trial; V) If the August 10, 2011 proceeding was only an evidentiary hearing, as Plaintiff claims, and not a trial, whether the Court then lacked authority to enter its judgment; and VI) Whether claimant Hohlios was unfairly denied his right to be heard at trial.
Holdings: The Court held that the district court acted in accordance with the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure in ruling on the State’s Forfeiture Complaint and did not deny the rights of Appellants to file answers, conduct discovery, file summary judgment motions, or otherwise fully participate in the proceedings.
The Court affirmed.
J. Golden delivered the opinion for the court.