SUBLETTE COUNTY – Although scheduling slowdowns are keeping Rex F. Rammell’s civil suit for a declaratory judgment against Wyoming’s brand inspection law at a standstill, he filed a new argument to support his claim on March 29.
Rammell is currently scheduled for a one-day jury trial on April 28 in Sublette County Circuit Court after being cited for five misdemeanor violations of Wyoming Statute 11-21-103(a) on June 27, 2019.
Sublette County Deputy Attorney Stan Cannon asked that the fifth count, for a nursing foal, be dismissed. Presiding Judge Gregory Corpening approved that change but denied Rammell’s motion to continue the trial to await the outcome of Rammell’s civil suit, filed in 9th District Court on Feb. 26.
Rammell’s declaratory judgment asks: “Is Wyoming Statute 11-21-103(a) unconstitutional?”
It is assigned to District Judge Marv Tyler, who has not yet acted on it. In a previous civil appeal, the judge had transferred the higher-court constitutional issue to 4th District Judge John Fenn.
Judge Fenn overturned a Circuit Court ruling and remanded the case back for more legal analysis.
In this two-year process, the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office as well as Cannon continue to argue that the state’s brand-inspection law is constitutional and necessary for livestock regulation and management and the law is sufficient notice for livestock checks.
One California court ruling approves warrantless stops for game and fish wardens, cited by Cannon in defense of Wyoming’s warrantless stops for brand inspections – “Like California, Wyoming shares an interest in allowing Game and Fish officers to check licenses, creel limits and hunting tags without prerequisite probable cause or reasonable suspicion of any criminal wrongdoing.”
This was the point that Rammell made in his latest filing: “The California Fish and Game case, however, is not applicable. Wildlife and livestock are not the same. Wildlife belongs to no one person until they are legally harvested.”
Most hunters are “well aware” of the likelihood of warrantless inspections to check licenses or limits,” he argued.
“Ownership of livestock on the other hand is a property right that begins when an animal is either produced or purchased and protected not only by the Fourth Amendment but also by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.”
Further, he argued, county-to-county brand inspections are only required in Wyoming and Montana – nowhere else. “People from other states who are not used to warrantless searches of livestock moving between counties in Wyoming have no ‘certainty, regularity and notice’ of warrantless inspections.”