Rammell's appeal could be derailed by procedure

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Another delay slowed the lengthy judicial process of Wyoming veterinarian Rex F. Rammell’s appeal of his brand-inspection law convictions and his separate civil complaint that the state’s brand inspection law is unconstitutional.

Oral arguments scheduled for Monday, Oct. 18, began via videoconference among 9th District Judge Marv Tyler, Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson, Attorney General Office’s Jonathan Sater and Rammell.

After setting an hour and a half for Rammell and Crosson to argue their respective positions, related to a brand-inspection case going back to June 2019, Judge Tyler listed the briefs and exhibits he received from Rammell, the Attorney General’s Office and Crosson.

On June 27, 2019, a Sublette County deputy stopped Rammell and asked if he had brand inspections for five horses in his trailer that he brought to Sublette County pasture. Rammell fought four misdemeanor citations of Wyoming Statute 11-21-103(a) and a Circuit Court jury found him guilty this year. He immediately appealed the verdict in 9th District Court, claiming as he has for more than two years that the brand-inspection law is unconstitutional.

“Mr. Rammell is appealing his conviction from Circuit Court,” the judge said, adding he set aside an hour and a half and would not limit their arguments – “You can argue anything in the briefs or otherwise in the record.”

Rammell’s submissions included his appeal’s Oct. 5 designation of the record to transfer court records to District Court. He included the Bill of Rights, parts of the Wyoming Constitution and an audio recording of the first hearing on his motion in the misdemeanor case to suppress the deputy’s report. The designation was not filed with his appeal as usual.

To start the hearing, Crosson entered a verbal motion to strike Rammell’s exhibits as “untimely – over 2 months late.” He also argued Rammell had not “asserted proper jurisdiction.”

Rammell replied the filing was late because he was working in Alaska so he only received emails and did not get “hard copies” until he returned to Wyoming.

“This has been a long, drawn-out, hard fight, especially for you, Judge Tyler,” he said. “I appreciate you helping to resolve this case.”

He thought the Circuit Court record was already transferred until he received notice from the court clerk. “So if the state wants more time to designate the record, I have no objection.”

As far as jurisdiction, Rammell said, “I thought we addressed this other day with the Attorney General’s Office (hearing to be included). This case has always been before Sublette County judges and in Sublette County courts. The case should go forward without any jurisdiction questions.”

Also, he said, the AGO did not object about jurisdiction in its response; Sater said he would leave it to Crosson’s judgment.

Judge Tyler noted he was handling Rammell’s appeal after his Circuit Court trial and “a separate declaratory judgment pending, essentially raising the same issue about the constitutionality of these issues.”

His intent, he added, was to sort out the motions before oral arguments – including Crosson’s to be submitted in writing – and “see if you can go forward.”

Rammell said he thought he had time to file a reply to Crosson’s motion to dismiss the appeal. Judge Tyler said he would give him time to do that.

Crosson’s written motion filed Oct. 19 said Rammell failed to comply with the Wyoming Rules of Appellate Procedure by not citing any statute or provision for the District Court to exercise its jurisdiction. An appeal must also include “an appropriate standard of review applicable to the issues raised, as well as argument with citations to the authorities, statutes and parts of the designated record on appeal relied on.”

Judge Tyler provided Rammell an “opportunity” to respond to the state’s motion to dismiss but the appeal’s future depends on how Judge Tyler will rule on the motion.

“You have to get past this motion – you may have an opportunity for a reply brief under appellate procedure,” the judge said. “We’ll see how things shake out after this motion.”

Rammell said, “It would be a sad case to be denied an appeal over a procedural problem.”

Judge Tyler will review Crosson’s motion and Rammell’s reply and issue a ruling to determine if the appeal will proceed.