Wyoming Liberty Group
CHEYENNE, WY – The Wyoming Liberty Group released a comprehensive policy paper today, “Criminal Law in Wyoming: An Overview and Analysis of Possible Reforms.” The latest issue in WyLiberty’s series, the Liberty Brief, the paper provides a broad assessment of Wyoming criminal statutes and addresses potential changes to law and policy. These reforms include amending or repealing certain criminal statutes, changing Wyoming’s approach to criminal sentencing, and enacting new laws that reduce strict liability offenses.
I’ve known this local kid Seamus for years. He’s rowdy, all boy. He has always risen to responsibility when it was expected of him. Before he could legally drive, I used to hire him to watch my sons if I had a job that would require all my attention. I never worried, as I say, he could handle the responsibility.
I have mentioned diversion and diversion programs in various blogs. I thought I had a fairly good grasp of the concept until I began looking at the various different ways diversion was being implemented across the state. My first impulse was to pronounce some forms as just wrong. Reminds me of riding for Condict, he’d say “That’s just wrong!” which meant we weren’t riding, driving or walking any further until the situation was rectified, after of course I figured out what it was that was wrong. I began to read national and international definitions, there were some similarities in them all but subtle differences.
On Wednesday the Joint Judiciary Committee of the Wyoming Legislature voted to adopt a committee bill to reform civil asset forfeiture under the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act (“WCSA”). The law as it exists today allows Wyoming police to seize and the state to keep (“forfeit”) property that they suspect is related to the drug trade, including cash, cars and firearms. Property owners do not have to be convicted or even charged with a crime. Although Wyoming has not abused this law to the levels witnessed in other states, there have been some very questionable cases that illustrate the current law’s threat to due process and property rights.
Six years ago a piece of legislation was enacted known as the “Single Point of Entry”,(SPOE) It is part of Wyoming Statute 14-6-203 which is under Title 14 in the Wyoming Statutes. The idea is that the District Attorney will be the single point of entry for any minor into the legal system. Visualize the District Attorney as the Air Traffic Controller channeling juvenile offenders into various court systems or diversion programs. Here in Wyoming we usually refer to the District Attorney as the County Attorney, he or she is the highest office holder in the county’s legal department. As an elected official, the County Attorney has the “buck stops here” position in a county’s juvenile justice system.
We don’t have mail delivery available in Dubois to our houses, so we have post office boxes. I don’t come down the Mountain daily; I try to combine errands because gas isn’t cheap. On Monday the 5th, I checked the mail, on my way to hunt Elk. In the mail was a letter with the Governor’s office listed on the return. I was expecting a “Dear John”, my expectations were ill founded, enclosed in the envelope was a letter congratulating me on my appointment. Also in the letter was an “Oath of Office” form that I was to fill out, have notarized and return.