STEVEN R. BARELA, Appellant (Defendant),
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).
from the District Court of Albany County The Honorable
Jeffrey A. Donnell, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Pro se.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General;
Christyne M. Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General;
Katherine A. Adams, Assistant Attorney General.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Steven R. Barela challenges the district court's order
denying two motions. We dismiss this appeal because Mr.
Barela's motions attempt to raise issues outside the
jurisdiction of the district court and this Court.
In 1994, Mr. Barela murdered his wife. In 1995, he pled
guilty to second-degree murder and the district court
sentenced him to a term of twenty-eight years to life. Mr.
Barela did not appeal that sentence. Later, Mr. Barela filed
a motion for sentence reduction, which the district court
denied. This Court affirmed the district court's denial
of the motion for sentence reduction. Barela v.
State, 936 P.2d 66 (Wyo. 1997) (Barela I). In
1999, Mr. Barela filed a petition for post-conviction relief
with this Court, which we denied. In 2000, he filed a motion
to withdraw his guilty plea, which the district court denied.
We affirmed the denial of Mr. Barela's request to
withdraw his guilty plea. Barela v. State, 2002 WY
143, 55 P.3d 11 (Wyo. 2002) (Barela II). In 2015,
Mr. Barela filed a motion which requested a writ of habeas
corpus, withdrawal of his guilty plea and correction or
reduction of his sentence. The district court denied those
motions, and once again Mr. Barela appealed. We determined
that we had no jurisdiction to consider an appeal of the
habeas corpus issue or of the untimely motions to withdraw
guilty plea and to reduce sentence. We considered Mr.
Barela's claim that his sentence was illegal and affirmed
the district court because the sentence was not illegal.
Barela v. State, 2016 WY 68, 375 P.3d 783 (Wyo.
2016) (Barela III).
In August 2016, Mr. Barela filed two motions in his criminal
case. The first was titled "Motion for: Copy of Records
& Order to Perform Duty as prescribed by Law in Violation
of and Pursuant to W.S. § 7-13-104 & Wyoming
Criminal History Records Act 7-19-101 through 7-19-109 &
Wyoming Public Records Act - W.S. §§ 16-4-201
through 16-4-205 & Freedom of Information Act." In
that motion he requested that the district court "order
the Wyoming Department of Corrections to provide a true copy
of all the defendant's records . . . at the State's
expense . . . ." Mr. Barela titled his second motion as
"Motion for: De Novo Review/Clarification of Sentence,
Pursuant to W.S. § 7-13-201 & W.S. § 6-10-104
Maximum and Minimum Term of Sentence." He requested an
order "granting the Defendant the right to what the
length of time that this Court expected the Defendant to
serve on his sentence." [sic] The district court denied
both motions, finding that "Mr. Barela has presented no
substantive grounds for his motions and no cogent legal
argument in support of his requests." Mr. Barela
Although the district court denied Mr. Barela's motion
for failure to provide any "substantive grounds or
cogent legal argument, " we may affirm a district
court's decision "on any proper legal grounds
supported by the record." Allgier v. State,
2015 WY 137, ¶ 11, 358 P.3d 1271, 1275 (Wyo. 2015). At
the outset, "every court has the duty to ensure the
proper exercise of its jurisdiction." Lee v.
State, 2007 WY 81, ¶ 5, 157 P.3d 947, 948 (Wyo.
2007). "Whether subject matter jurisdiction exists is a
question of law that we review de novo."
Kurtenbach v. State, 2012 WY 162, ¶ 10, 290
P.3d 1101, 1104 (Wyo. 2012).
In his first motion, Mr. Barela asked the district court,
within the confines of Mr. Barela's criminal case, to
require the Wyoming Department of Corrections to produce
records under the Wyoming Criminal History Records Act, Wyo.
Stat. Ann. §§ 7-19-102 through 109 (LexisNexis
2015). The Wyoming Criminal History Records Act relates to
"information, records and data compiled by criminal
justice agencies on individuals for the purpose of
identifying criminal offenders . . . ." Section
7-19-103(a)(ii). However, Mr. Barela did not indicate he was
requesting any specific identifying criminal history records
or information. Rather, he argued that he "is clearly
within his rights under the law to ask for a complete and
true copy of all of his institutional records . . . ."
It may be that Mr. Barela's claim far exceeds the
parameters of the Wyoming Criminal History Records Act. It is
unnecessary to answer that question because it is clear that
the district court, within Mr. Barela's original criminal
case, had no jurisdiction to enforce the Wyoming Criminal
History Records Act or any other public records act.
Furthermore, Mr. Barela provides no cogent argument or
pertinent authority demonstrating jurisdiction.
Subject matter jurisdiction is the power to hear and
determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings
in question belong. Fuller v. State,568 P.2d 900, ...