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Rachelle L. Earley v. the State of Wyoming

December 20, 2011

RACHELLE L. EARLEY, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Uinta County The Honorable Dennis L. Sanderson, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Voigt, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE:

This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] The appellant was acquitted of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, but convicted of accessory before the fact to delivery of a controlled substance. The former occurred via the granting of a defense motion for judgment of acquittal made at the close of the State's case, while the latter occurred via jury verdict. In this appeal, the appellant challenges the district court's joinder of her case with that of a co-defendant, she claims error in the district court's handling of issues concerning the cross-examination of a particular witness, and she questions the sufficiency of the evidence.*fn1 Finding no error, we affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] 1. Did the district court abuse its discretion in granting the State's motion to join appellant's case with that of her co-defendant?

2. Did the district court abuse its discretion in limiting cross-examination of a witness, in admonishing the co-defendant's counsel in that regard, and in giving the jury a curative instruction?

3. Was the verdict supported by sufficient evidence?

FACTS

[¶3] The essential facts of this case were very recently set forth in detail in Garner v. State, 2011 WY 156, ¶¶ 3-8, ___ P.3d ___, ___ (Wyo. 2011), and we will not repeat them here at length. Suffice it to say that the appellant's co-defendant was charged with one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, and two counts of delivery of a controlled substance. The appellant was charged with a similar conspiracy count, and with being an accessory before the fact to one of the controlled substance deliveries. Id. at ¶ 4. Like the appellant, her co-defendant moved for judgment of acquittal, which motion was granted as to the conspiracy charge. Id. at ¶ 8. The jury convicted the co-defendant of both deliveries. Id.

DISCUSSION

Did the district court abuse its discretion in granting the State's motion to join appellant's case with that of her co-defendant?

[¶4] W.R.Cr.P. 8(b), which governs the joinder of defendants, reads as follows:

(b) Joinder of defendants. -- Two or more defendants may be charged in the same citation, indictment or information if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction, or in the same series of acts or transactions constituting an offense or offenses. Such defendants may be charged in one or more counts together, or separately, and all of the defendants need not be charged in each count.

[¶5] In turn, W.R.Cr.P. 13 provides that, where defendants could have been joined in one indictment, information, or citation, they may be tried jointly. Nearly forty years ago, we interpreted these rules as favoring joint trials "unless there are compelling reasons for separate trials." Linn v. State, 505 P.2d 1270, 1274 (Wyo. 1973). We went on to say:

"Joint trials of persons charged together with committing the same offense or with being accessory to its commission are the rule, rather than the exception. There is a substantial public interest in this procedure. It expedites the administration of justice, reduces the congestion of trial dockets, conserves judicial time, lessens the burden upon citizens who must sacrifice both time and money to serve upon juries, and avoids the necessity of recalling witnesses who would otherwise be called upon to testify only once."

Id. (quoting Parker v. United States, 404 F.2d 1193, 1196 (9th Cir. Or. 1968), cert. denied, 394 U.S. 1004, 89 ...


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