Wyoming Liberty Group

We here at the Wyoming Liberty Group strive to bring you the latest information. Please enjoy the blogs and comment on them often.

Steve Klein serves as attorney and research counsel with the Wyoming Liberty Group and Pillar of Law Institute, focusing on free speech and criminal law.  Steve has co-authored numerous amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs for state and federal courts in several important free speech cases, advocating in favor of political speech across the country. In 2014, Steve was co-counsel in three successful free speech cases in Wyoming.
In the 2015 Wyoming Legislative Session, Steve lobbied on behalf of reforming the state’s civil asset forfeiture law. 2015 Senate File 14 passed the entire legislature 80-9 before being vetoed by Governor Mead. Steve continues to lobby on behalf of reform in the 2015-16 legislative interim.
Steve holds a bachelors degree in politics from Hillsdale College and a law degree from Ave Maria School of Law, where he served as Managing Editor of the Ave Maria Law Review and President of the Ave Maria Federalist Society. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Michigan.

Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform at the Wyoming Senate

After narrowly emerging from the Wyoming Senate Judiciary Committee by a 3-2 vote on Monday, yesterday the entire Wyoming Senate began to consider Senate File 14, which would replace civil forfeiture under the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act with criminal forfeiture. That is, instead of law enforcement being able to seize and forfeit cash, cars, firearms and other property that is allegedly related to the drug trade through a civil proceeding (where the property owner is not provided an attorney and is subject to a preponderance of the evidence standard instead of proof beyond a reasonable doubt), the property owner will have to be convicted of a drug felony before losing any property.

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Free Speech Martyrs at Charlie Hebdo

Today, 12 people were murdered in Paris at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The murderers are (with about 99.9% certainty) cowardly fanatics who believe it is appropriate to shoot people for publishing cartoons lampooning Mohammed.

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“Regulation Freedom” at the Wyoming Legislature

The Legislative Service Office continues to post bills that will be introduced next month when the Wyoming Legislature convenes for the 2015 General Session. Recent appearances include some proposed joint resolutions. On the House side so far there is a proposed amendment to the Wyoming Constitution that would make the Wyoming superintendent of schools an appointed position. Although this is the legitimate way to enact the notorious Senate File 104 (2013) following the Powers v. Wyoming case, it is likely to be met with controversy almost equaling the original SF104 effort. Perhaps controversial, but more uplifting is House Joint Resolution 1, “Regulation Freedom.”

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End Civil Forfeiture in Wyoming

In October, comedian John Oliver discussed the practice of civil asset forfeiture on his HBO program “Last Week Tonight.” His bit closed with a parody of the show “Law & Order,” featuring a police detective interrogating a pile of money and another running in dramatic slow motion with a seized toaster. Unfortunately, in real life civil forfeiture is often not very funny, and across Wyoming police may seize and the state may forfeit property that is allegedly related to the drug trade. They may take cash, cars, firearms and other property without convicting or even charging the owner of a crime. It’s time to end this practice.

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Wyoming Agency Will Retain Unconstitutional Personnel Rule

In late September I submitted comments to the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information (“A&I”) opposing two proposed changes to the State of Wyoming Personnel Rules. My memo discussed two vague and overbroad provisions, one which could lead to unconstitutional abridgements of free speech and the other which unequivocally punished applicants for merely associating with people who say the wrong things about the government:

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Wyoming Legislature to Consider “Right to Try”

The 2015 Wyoming Legislative Session is nearly one month away, and the Legislative Service Office (LSO) is busy finalizing bills and posting them online. Since this will be a full legislative session that will last 40 days, every bill will be introduced (in budget sessions every other year, a 2/3 vote in one house is required to introduce a bill). Although bills can die in many ways, usually in a general session each bill at least gets a hearing before its assigned committee. At the time of this writing, ten bills were available, already promising lively discussions on turning the Quebec 1 missile alert facility into a historic site and when to treat road kill as game. Perhaps most interesting so far, however, is Senate File 3, “Right to Try.”

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Wyoming Attorney General Joins Important Gun Rights Brief

In mid-November, Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael joined an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief filed in a Maryland case that will soon be heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The case, Kolbe v. O’Malley, challenges a law recently enacted in Maryland that bans numerous semi-automatic rifles in the state and limits detachable magazine capacity to 10 rounds. Patrick Morrisey, attorney general for the state of West Virginia, took point on the brief, and 19 other states joined along with Wyoming. The lawsuit itself is led by a coalition of gun owners, gun dealers, gun clubs and interest groups.

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