Anna Reeves Olson, Park Street Law Offices Casper, Wyoming
March 2017 Civil Court Updates
Brandon Overson v. The State of Wyoming
2017 WY 4
January 19, 2017
Brandon Overson was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and possession with intent to deliver. At trial, a police officer testified that he had responded to a call advising of a possible drug deal taking place behind a hotel. At the scene, the officer encountered Tandie Hooks who consented to a search that resulted in officers finding a bag of methamphetamine in her car. After Ms. Hooks was taken into custody, she told the officer that her dealer, “Brandon,” was at her home and that he had arranged the drug deal behind the hotel. Mr. Overson was later apprehended at Ms. Hooks’ residence and police discovered that he was in possession of methamphetamine.
Based in part on Ms. Hooks’ testimony, the District Court ruled that evidence of the drug deal at the hotel was admissible because the prosecution had linked Overson to the transaction and established that he was the one who had supplied her with drugs. Later, however, the District Court changed its ruling, and prohibited the prosecution from using the evidence for that purpose.
On appeal the Supreme Court reversed and held that the evidence of the drug transaction behind the hotel was irrelevant and the decision to admit it was prejudicial error. The Court reasoned that the central question at trial was whether Overson possessed the drugs with an intent to deliver and noted that while the District Court eventually determined that the evidence of the drug transaction at the hotel could not be admitted to prove that Overson had an intent to deliver, the District Court did not give an instruction telling the jury that evidence about the transaction behind the hotel was admitted for the limited purpose of establishing why the police stopped and detained Overson. Without being instructed, the jury would not have considered the evidence only for that limited purpose and without that evidence, there was a reasonable possibility that the verdict might have been more favorable to Overson.
Richard Carl Bohling v. The State of Wyoming
2017 WY 7
January 25, 2017
Richard Bohling was the Albany County and Prosecuting Attorney from 2003 through 2014. During that time, Bohling purchased a number of cameras and electronic equipment with county funds. An investigation later revealed that Bohling had used the camera equipment as his own personal property.
The State charged Bohling with four counts of obtaining property by false pretenses and alleged that Bohling had submitted vouchers to the Board of Albany County Commissioners for the purchase of certain cameras and other electronics for his own personal use, thereby using falsehood to induce the county to pay for the items. Bohling was later convicted of the four obtaining property by false pretenses charges.
On appeal the Supreme Court reversed and determined that the crime of obtaining property by false pretenses under Wyo. Stat. § 6-3-407 requires that the victim not only give possession of the property to the defendant, but passes title to it as well. The statute provides that a person who knowingly “obtains” property from another person by false pretenses with intent to defraud the person is guilty, but that the word “obtains” means that the defendant requires that the victim consensually part with both title and possession. However, the evidence at trial was that the county never intended to transfer title or ownership of the items to Mr. Bohling. This is because Bohling either charged the items on a county credit card or he charged the items to an account that the county maintained with a vendor, such as Sam’s Club. Once the vouchers were submitted, the county commissioners reviewed and approved them, and the county treasurer then directly paid the credit card company or vendor.
The fatal flaw in the State’s case was that it failed to produce any evidence that...