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Sheesley v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

March 19, 2019

TOSHA LEIGH SHEESLEY, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

          Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County The Honorable Catherine E. Wilking, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief Appellate Counsel; Desiree Wilson, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Ms. Wilson.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens, Deputy Attorney General; Caitlin F. Harper, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Benjamin E. Fischer, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Fischer.

          Before DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.

          FOX, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] Tosha Leigh Sheesley was convicted of one count of third-degree sexual assault. She appeals her conviction, raising substantive due process challenges under the United States and Wyoming Constitutions. We affirm.

         ISSUES

         1. Was Ms. Sheesley denied her right to due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution?

         2. Was Ms. Sheesley denied her right to due process of law under Article 1, Sections 6, 7, and 36 of the Wyoming Constitution?

         FACTS

         [¶2] Tosha Leigh Sheesley was a resident manager of the Casper Re-Entry Center (CRC), an adult community correctional facility in Casper, Wyoming. While employed at the CRC, Ms. Sheesley began a sexual relationship with KJ, a CRC resident. The State charged Ms. Sheesley with two counts of sexual assault in the second degree and one count of sexual assault in the third degree under Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 6-2-303(a)(vii) and 6-2-304(a)(iii) (LexisNexis 2015), which prohibit sexual contact between employees and residents of correctional facilities. Ms. Sheesley moved to dismiss the charges, arguing the statutes violated her substantive due process rights under the United States and Wyoming Constitutions. The district court denied the motion, reasoning that the statutes were designed "to protect those who are in a position that, per se, negates consent" and thus, do not violate the United States or Wyoming Constitutions because neither constitution recognizes a fundamental right to nonconsensual sex. The State agreed to dismiss two of the counts against Ms. Sheesley in exchange for a guilty plea to one count of sexual assault in the third degree in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-304(a)(iii). Ms. Sheesley pleaded guilty, reserving her right to appeal the denial of her motion to dismiss. The district court imposed a sentence of three to five years imprisonment, suspended on condition that Ms. Sheesley complete three years of supervised probation.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         [¶3] Ms. Sheesley presents a constitutional challenge to Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 6-2-304(a)(iii) and 6-2-303(a)(vii). "The question of whether a statute is constitutional is a question of law over which this Court exercises de novo review." Vaughn v. State, 2017 WY 29, ¶ 7, 391 P.3d 1086, 1091 (Wyo. 2017) (quoting Kammerer v. State, 2014 WY 50, ¶ 5, 322 P.3d 827, 830 (Wyo. 2014)). Statutes are presumed constitutional, and we resolve any doubt in favor of constitutionality. Vaughn, 2017 WY 29, ¶ 7, 391 P.3d at 1091. The party challenging the constitutionality of a statute bears the burden of proving its unconstitutionality beyond any reasonable doubt. Gordon v. State by and through Capitol Bldg. Rehab., 2018 WY 32, ¶ 12, 413 P.3d 1093, 1099 (Wyo. 2018) (citing Krenning v. Heart Mt. Irrigation Dist., 2009 WY 11, ¶ 33, 200 P.3d 774, 784 (Wyo. 2009)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Was Ms. Sheesley denied her right to due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments ...


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