Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Summary 2014 WY 30

Summary of Decision February 25, 2014

District Judge Donnell delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-13-0059

URL: http://www.courts.state.wy.us/Opinions.aspx

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County the Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge

Representing Appellant: Robert T. Moxley, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Christyne Martens, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Martens.

Date of Decision: February 25, 2014

Facts: Pursuant to a plea agreement, Brian J. Noel pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter. His pleas were accepted, and Noel was sentenced to two consecutive terms of incarceration of seventeen to twenty years. Noel now challenges on several grounds the plea agreement and the validity of his guilty pleas, as well as the sentences imposed.

Issues: In his original Brief of Appellant, Noel presented the following sole issue for review: 1. Did the trial court abuse its discretion by failing to consider mitigating sentencing evidence and by applying that evidence to the wrong crime, thereby depriving Brian Noel of his plea bargain?

However, Noel replaced his appellate counsel and in a subsequent Supplemental Brief of Appellant, he expanded his issues to include: 1. Can a plea agreement be valid under W.R.Cr.P. Rule 11(e), whereby a criminal defendant must “recommend” consecutive prison sentences, without any sentencing concession from the state? 2. Did a legally sufficient factual or legal basis support the trial court’s acceptance of guilty pleas to “attempted voluntary manslaughter,” and was that crime logically possible in this case? 3. Was the sentencing on reduced charges rendered unfair by the trial court’s restrictive interpretation of the plea agreement, by the state’s position that Brian Noel acted with the intent to kill, and by victim impact evidence that portrayed him as guilty of attempted murder? 4. Did the substitute sentencing court abuse its discretion or act contrary to law in the process of sentencing Mr. Noel to near-maximum, consecutive sentences?

Finally, in his Reply Brief of Appellant, apparently acting on the theory that “more is better,” Noel added even more issues, stating them as: 1. Was the plea-taking colloquy sufficient to assure that a “waiver of appeal” is enforceable? 2. Are the terms of a plea bargain and the trial court’s interpretation of the bargain subject to de novo review? 3. Does “plain error” doctrine allow the court to disregard constitutional defects in the acceptance below of Noel’s plea? 4. Does stare decisis foreclose Noel’s challenge to his conviction below for a logically impossible crime?

Holdings/Conclusion: For the reasons set forth herein, this Court concludes that the district court did not err in accepting Noel’s guilty pleas to two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter in exchange for the plea agreement nor did the court err in sentencing Noel to two consecutive counts of seventeen to twenty years of incarceration thereon. Noel’s convictions and sentences are affirmed in all respects.

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

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