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Osban v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

April 19, 2019

JOSHUA C. OSBAN, Appellant (Defendant),
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

          Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Mitch Guthrie, Attorney at Law, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; Christyne Martens, Deputy Attorney General; Caitlin F. Harper, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Russell Farr, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Farr.

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

          FOX, J., delivers the opinion of the Court; KAUTZ, J., files a dissenting opinion, in which BOOMGAARDEN, J., joins.

          FOX, JUSTICE

         [¶1] A jury convicted Joshua C. Osban of possession of methamphetamine. Mr. Osban appeals his conviction, arguing the State failed to bring him to trial within 180 days following his arraignment as required by Wyoming Rule of Criminal Procedure 48. He also claims the district court should have suppressed the methamphetamine found in a container inside his truck because the search of the container was unreasonable. We reverse.


         [¶2] Mr. Osban raises two issues:

I. Whether Mr. Osban's right to a speedy trial under W.R.Cr.P. 48 was violated when his trial commenced 194 days after his arraignment.
II. Whether the district court erred when it denied Mr. Osban's motion to suppress the methamphetamine officers discovered in his truck.

         Because we reverse on the speedy trial issue, we do not address the motion to suppress.


         [¶3] Cheyenne Police Officer Jonathan Smith responded to a report that a man had fired a gun at a party. When he arrived at the scene, the homeowner told Officer Smith that her ex-husband, Mr. Osban, had come to the house and argued with her boyfriend, Christopher Cash. She said the argument ended when Mr. Osban shot a gun at Mr. Cash and then drove away. Another witness told Officer Smith that she saw some mud splatter beside Mr. Cash's leg after the shot was fired. Officers found a .22 Super X casing in the area where witnesses indicated Mr. Osban had fired the shot.

         [¶4] Mr. Osban was later apprehended at his home, and a search revealed a .22 caliber pistol, cartridges, and methamphetamine. The State charged Mr. Osban with one count of aggravated assault and battery, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-502(a)(i) (LexisNexis 2017), and one count of possession of methamphetamine, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 35-7-1031(c)(ii) (LexisNexis 2017). Mr. Osban filed a demand for speedy trial, and he pleaded not guilty to both charges at his arraignment on May 5, 2017. In its criminal case management order, the district court acknowledged that Mr. Osban's 180-day trial deadline under Rule 48 would run on November 1, 2017, and it set Mr. Osban's trial for August 14, 2017. The district court later reset the trial for October 16, 2017.

         [¶5] On October 2, 2017, the State filed a petition to revoke Mr. Osban's bond after he tested positive for methamphetamine and alcohol. On October 5, 2017, the district court ordered the clerk of court to issue a bench warrant, which it did the next day. Defense counsel met with Mr. Osban and informed him it was important he turn himself in to law enforcement in order to maintain the October 16, 2017 trial date. On October 12, 2017, Mr. Osban surrendered himself at the Laramie County Detention Center, where he was served with the warrant. The next day, Mr. Osban's counsel filed a notice that the bench warrant had been executed and Mr. Osban was in custody. Later that day, counsel was informed by district court staff that Mr. Osban's October 16, 2017 trial date had been vacated. Written notice of the vacated trial setting was not filed until October 25, 2017, when an order on scheduling conference and an order resetting the jury trial were filed. The latter order stated the October 16, 2017 trial had been vacated because Mr. Osban had "absconded in violation of his bond," and both orders reset the trial for November 13, 2017. On November 6, 2017, Mr. Osban filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him because his trial had not taken place on or before November 1, 2017-his Rule 48 deadline. On November 9, 2017, the district court held a hearing on the matter and denied the motion. The district court determined it had not violated Rule 48(b) because when a warrant is issued, the "defendant is unavailable" for trial. It also mentioned that the trial stack required the continuance in the due administration of justice.

         [¶6] After being reset one last time, Mr. Osban's trial commenced on November 15, 2017. The jury convicted him of possessing methamphetamine but acquitted him of the aggravated assault and battery charge. The district court sentenced Mr. Osban to two to five years of imprisonment but suspended the sentence in favor of three years of supervised probation.[1] Mr. Osban filed a timely notice of appeal.


         W.R.Cr.P. 48 Speedy Trial

         [¶7] Mr. Osban claims his right to a speedy trial was violated when the district court sua sponte vacated the October 16, 2017 trial setting without giving him an opportunity to object, resulting in his trial taking place after the 180-day deadline required by W.R.Cr.P. 48(b).[2] Mr. Osban filed a motion to dismiss on this basis, and the district court denied the motion. We review speedy trial claims under Rule 48 de novo. Castellanos v. State, 2016 WY 11, ¶ 48, 366 P.3d 1279, 1294 (Wyo. 2016).

         [¶8] The constitutional right to a speedy trial has amorphous contours. Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 522, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 2188, 33 L.Ed.2d 101 (1972). The purpose of W.R.Cr.P. 48, and similar rules across the country, is to provide structure to that right. See Castellanos, 2016 WY 11, ¶ 49, 366 P.3d at 1294. The rule's provisions "are mandatory." Rodiack v. State, 2002 WY 137, ¶ 9, 55 P.3d 1, 3 (Wyo. 2002) (citations omitted). The rule provides for trial within 180 days of arraignment, with certain exceptions. Mr. Osban was arraigned on May 5, 2017, and the district court acknowledged ...

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