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Guy v. Lampert

Supreme Court of Wyoming

August 3, 2016

JONMICHAEL GUY, Appellant (Plaintiff),
v.
ROBERT LAMPERT, Wyoming Department of Corrections Director, STEVE HARGETT, Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution Warden, and KATHY LONG, Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution Business Manager, Appellees (Defendants).

         Appeal from the District Court of Goshen County The Honorable Keith G. Kautz, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Pro se

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; James Kaste, Deputy Attorney General; Elizabeth Morrisseau, Assistant Attorney General

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, JJ, and CAMPBELL, DJ.

          CAMPBELL, DISTRICT JUDGE.

         [¶1] JonMichael Guy is an inmate at Wyoming's medium-security correctional facility in Torrington. He appeals from two orders of the district court relating to his request to examine certain public records of that institution.[1] We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] Stripped of several overwrought technical arguments relating to Issue 1, which were rendered largely pointless by two recent decisions of this Court, [2] the issues raised by Guy may be reduced to the following:

1. Did the district court properly dismiss Guy's constitutional claims seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory damages?
2. Did the district court properly conclude the defendants had satisfied their burden of demonstrating that, at the time of its February 10, 2015 hearing, Guy had been provided access to all records addressed in his January 6, 2014 request?
3. Does the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) preempt the Wyoming Public Records Act (WPRA)?
4. Did the district court communicate with the defendents ex parte?

         FACTS

         [¶3] On January 6, 2014, Guy wrote a letter to Warden Steve Hargett, wherein he asked to inspect records created during the four most recent fiscal years, predominantly those related to the Inmate Commissary Fund and the Departmental Assistance Fund accounts. His request was for all documents pertaining in any way to expenditures and transfers of funds into and out of those accounts, or for procuring inmate "educational materials."[3] On January 10, 2014, the warden advised Guy in writing that the institution would immediately begin to make the requested records available for his inspection.

         [¶4] After considering security issues and concerns with the integrity of the files involved, as well as the volume of the records requested, the warden again wrote to Guy on January 27 to inform him that the documents would be provided to him in electronic form.[4] The Warden also informed Guy of the anticipated schedule of delivery of the material, and that there would be two installments, one in March and one in May 2014.

         [¶5] As a consequence of staffing issues within the business office and the timing of the requests (coincident with the institution's June 30th budget deadline), they were unable to complete work on Guy's request in accordance with the warden's projected schedule. By the end of May 2014, they had provided only 16 CDs containing 1348 files and 10, 164 pages of documents. Those totals eventually grew to delivery of 29 CDs containing 2069 files and 15, 127 pages of documents.

         [¶6] The Warden honored Guy's request to meet with him and business manager Kathy Long, and on May 23 again assured that Ms. Long would provide him with all requested documents. Nevertheless, Guy soon filed an institutional grievance over the matter and later pursued a two-level appeal from the denial of that grievance to, sequentially, the warden and the director of the Department ...


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