IN THE MATTER OF THE CORONER'S INQUEST IN THE DEATH OF ANTHONY LEE BIRKHOLZ,
TETON COUNTY CORONER, Appellee (Respondent). PAUL CASSIDY and BRUCE HAYSE, M.D., Appellants (Petitioners),
from the District Court of Teton County The Honorable Timothy
C. Day, Judge
Representing Appellants: Frank R. Chapman,
Marci Crank Bramlet, and Patrick J. Lewallen, Chapman Valdez
& Lansing, Casper, Wyoming; Deidre J. Bainbridge,
Jackson, Wyoming. Argument by Mr. Lewallen.
Representing Appellee: Keith M. Gingery, Teton County
Attorney's Office, Jackson, Wyoming. Argument by Mr.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
Appellants, Paul Cassidy and Bruce Hayse, M.D., filed a
W.R.C.P. Rule 60 motion to set aside the Coroner's
Inquest Verdict. The district court dismissed the motion,
concluding it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm.
Appellants raise two issues, one of which is dispositive and
Does the district court have subject matter jurisdiction in a
post-coroner inquest proceeding?
not address Appellants' second issue, whether
post-inquest proceedings are governed by Wyoming's
Administrative Procedure Act because that question is moot:
the time for an administrative appeal has passed. When no
controversary exists, courts will not consume their time
dealing with moot questions. Reno Livestock Corp. v. Sun
Oil Co., 638 P.2d 147, 154 (Wyo. 1981); Northern
Utilities, Inc. v. Public Service Commission, 617 P.2d
1079 (Wyo. 1980).
This case arises from a seldom used proceeding, the
coroner's inquest. Anthony Lee Birkholz and Dr. Hayse
were among a group of six people gathered at Dr. Hayse's
home in the early morning hours of January 17, 2017. While at
Dr. Hayse's house, Mr. Birkholz suffered a medical event
and 911 was called. An ambulance transported him to St.
John's Medical Center in Jackson, Wyoming. He was
subsequently transferred to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical
Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Mr. Birkholz died January 18,
2017. Kenneth Krell, M.D., an Idaho physician who cared for
him in the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, signed his
death certificate, which stated that the cause of death was
brain death due to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
Nearly four months later, the Teton County Coroner, Brent
Blue, M.D., conducted a coroner's inquest. Dr. Blue
empaneled a jury, called witnesses, and presided over the
inquest. The proceedings were transcribed. Dr. Blue
questioned witnesses, and at times, gratuitously construed
witness testimony for the jury. He spoke with individuals who
were not called as witnesses and reported these conversations
to the inquest jury. Dr. Blue presented Mr. Birkholz's
toxicology results to the inquest jury. No court order
authorized the release of these reports and no notice of the
public release was given to Mr. Birkholz's father, Paul
[¶5] The proceeding resulted in a Coroner's Inquest
Verdict of "Death due to Aspiration Secondary to Alcohol
and 5-methoxy-DMT Ingestion." The verdict listed
contributing factors as failure to timely call 911 and
failure to protect his head and airway when dragging Mr.
Birkholz down the stairs. The Coroner's Inquest Verdict
was filed in the District Court of Teton County, Ninth
Judicial District Agency No. 1701P-2322. Paul Cassidy and Dr.
Hayse filed a W.R.C.P. Rule 60 motion to set aside the