from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable W.
Thomas Sullins, Judge
Representing Appellant: Timothy C. Cotton of Timothy C.
Cotton, PC, Casper, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; Misha E. Westby, Deputy Attorney General; Jill E.
Kucera, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Shawnna M. Herron,
Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Herron.
Representing Guardian Ad Litem: Dan S. Wilde, Deputy State
Public Defender, and Aaron S. Hockman, Chief Trial and
Appellate Counsel, Wyoming Guardian Ad Litem Program, a
division of the Office of the State Public Defender.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Mother challenges the juvenile court's finding that she
neglected her seventeen-year-old son, NP. She contends that
the juvenile court improperly denied her motion for jury
trial because, although she did not file a jury demand, she
called the judge's chambers and the clerk of court
informing them that she wanted a jury trial, and she contends
that there was insufficient evidence to support the finding
of neglect. We affirm.
1. Did Mother waive her right to a jury trial when she failed
to timely file a jury demand?
there sufficient evidence for the juvenile court to determine
that Mother neglected NP?
At the time of the events giving rise to this matter, NP was
approximately seventeen-and-a-half years old and attended
Kelly Walsh High School. He had been diagnosed with
Asperger's Syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, obsessive
compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety, but was
relatively high functioning. CP, NP's mother (Mother), is
a single mother of six children, including NP.
The evening of December 14, 2015, NP and his brother were
attending swim team practice, and Mother had returned to
Casper from Sheridan, where she had a meeting earlier that
morning. Mother went to Kelly Walsh High School to check on
NP because NP had been skipping practice. Mother testified
that when she got there, NP gave her "a dirty look and
ignored" her. She could tell that NP had had a rough day
and noticed that he had stopped swimming. A swim coach asked
if he was OK and NP "lashed out at her verbally."
When Mother reprimanded NP for his behavior, NP began calling
her names. One of the coaches asked him to "take it
outside." NP got out of the pool, removed his flippers
and mask, and went outside of the pool area and into the
corridor with Mother.
There, the situation escalated. School custodian Duane Stover
testified that around 4:30 p.m. he heard yelling in the lobby
of the swimming pool, believed the disturbance was between
students, and headed toward them to intervene. When he got
closer, he saw Mother "[y]elling, shouting,
screaming" with NP backed into a corner. According to
Mr. Stover, NP did not yell back. However, when Mother
grabbed NP by the arm to take him outside to her car, he
broke free of her grasp and ran further into the building.
[¶6] Mother testified that once NP ran into the
building, she attempted to run after him, but he was gone;
she then went back into the pool area and told her other son
that she would return when practice was over. She went home
to check on her other children. Mother returned twice, once
at the end of practice to pick up NP's younger brother,
and again with her neighbor to look for NP. When they could
not locate NP in the school, Mother called the police and
then went home to her other children.
At approximately 7:00 p.m., Casper police officers Adrian
White and Jeff Bullard responded to a call from dispatch
notifying them of a missing male juvenile who was last seen
when he ran off into Kelly Walsh High School. It was reported
that NP was seventeen, had autism, and was only wearing swim
trunks at the time. Officer White testified that because he
needed a better physical description of NP, he called Mother,
who was "belligerent" on the phone and repeatedly
called him a "n*****." Officer White hung up before
getting a description of NP. The officers searched the school
and eventually found NP sleeping in a bathroom, wrapped from
head to toe in toilet paper. After locating NP, the officers
took him to the swimming pool locker room where he had left
his bag containing his clothes. They were unable to find his
bag or his clothes. It was a very cold and snowy evening, so
swim coaches who remained on the pool deck gave NP their
sweatshirt and sweatpants to wear, and the officers found a
pair of shoes in the school's lost and found.
It was snowing heavily when Officer Bullard walked NP to the
door of his home. He rang the doorbell and knocked several
times, receiving no answer for over a minute. Mother then
opened the door and said, "What the f*** do you
want?" Officer Bullard testified regarding what happened
[Officer Bullard]: And I was wearing a Casper Police
Department uniform. I was easily identified as a police
officer. I had [NP] standing right next to me. I said, you
know, [CP], if I may, may we step inside so I can talk with
you about what's going on with [NP] tonight?
And she said, No, you may not, get the [f***] off my
So at that time, she began to slam the door, and I stuck my
right foot in the door, used my foot to block the door from
it being shut.
Q. [Attorney for the State]: Why did you do that?
A. Because I wanted to continue my conversation with [CP]. I
wanted to give her options. I wanted to explain that, you
know, there were different things that could have occurred
that night besides him coming home immediately, recognizing
that she might have needed a time-out, [NP] might have needed
a time-out. We engineer those things all the time in the
course of our duties, taking kids to YCC [Youth Crisis
Center] or other family members or we research other ...