AGO enters Rex Rammel's brand-inspection appeal


SUBLETTE COUNTY – Rock Springs veterinarian Rex F. Rammell again faces the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, this time in his civil appeal of a judge’s order to allow a deputy’s brand-inspection report and citations as evidence against him.

Rammell was convicted in May of four misdemeanor violations of the state’s brand inspection law on June 27, 2019. A six-person jury found him guilty in May and afterward, Rammell filed his appeal in 9th District Court.

He is challenging the Circuit Court judge’s decision to not suppress that evidence, as well as receiving four citations instead of one.

Recent

Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson filed his response to Rammell’s appeal on Sept. 7.

On Sept. 10, the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office asked 9th District Court Judge Marv Tyler to allow it to enter the case, saying it should have received Rammell’s appeal brief when a law’s constitutionality is challenged.

Senior assistant Josh Eames submitted the request and a legal brief upholding the law’s constitutionality, which Judge Tyler accepted on Sept. 15.

Eames’ brief refers to a separate but related civil action Rammell filed before his misdemeanor trial asking Judge Tyler to determine or adjudicate whether Wyoming Statute 11-21-103 is unconstitutional. Eames also filed a motion to dismiss that case and a hearing took place on Aug. 12. Judge Tyler took it under advisement to determine if the two complaints are identical or not. 

Past 2 years

Initially in 2019, Sublette County Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws transferred the misdemeanor case to Magistrate Clay Kainer, who presided over and granted Rammell’s motion to suppress the papers. The order effectively ruled that using Wyoming Statute 11-21-103 to stop him check for brand inspections without suspicion could violate Rammell’s constitutional rights.

Magistrate Kainer ruled that the law did not hold up under his legal analysis; Judge Haws reviewed and signed off on Kainer’s decision.

That was challenged by the Sublette County Attorney’s Office in 9th District Court and transferred to 4th District Judge John Fenn, since retired. Fenn’s order applied his legal analysis and remanded the case to Circuit Court, where a previous Circuit Court judge on the case had retired. The presiding judge who stepped in was 3rd Circuit Court Judge Gregory Corpening, whose decision Rammell is challenging as well as his convictions. He is also retired from the bench. Judge Corpening performed the required three-prong Burger analysis and agreed with prosecutors.

Appeal

In his Aug. 2 appeal brief, Rammell laid out his long-held arguments that the Wyoming Statute 11-21-103 brand-inspection law is unconstitutional and that the deputy stopped him “without reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a crime.”

He reviewed Magistrate Kainer’s initial ruling in his favor, although it had been overturned in District Court and the case sent back to Circuit Court. Rammell said that transporting privately owned horses should not be subject to brand inspections except out of state or sales.

He also argued that the court and county attorney’s current interpretations of the Wyoming law are too broad, that his horses are not commercial property and stopping people without suspicious or warrant to check brand inspections is unwieldy and unconstitutional. 

‘Complicated’

On Sept. 7, Sublette County Attorney Crosson submitted a legal brief that stated the brand inspection law is constitutional and that Rammell was properly served with four violations instead of one.

“The history of this case is understated when described as procedurally complicated,” Crosson wrote as he reviewed the past two years of multiple court hearings and decisions.

Rammell pointed out that horses owned for personal pleasure are not part of a commercially regulated industry – which to this point it has not. He also argued that he should have only had one citation because a brand inspector often lists multiple horses on one form.

However, Crosson argued that agriculture and livestock are regulated at every level “including transporting animals into and through the state of Wyoming.” Also, he wrote, Rammell “concedes … he had no permits for any animals. Whether or not all animals could be included in a single permit is irrelevant.”

Crosson closed by saying Rammell did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that WSS 11-21-103(a) is unconstitutional and asks Judge Tyler to uphold the misdemeanor convictions.

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